Respecting Those Who have Lost Much

Job 29-32: Have you ever known someone who at one time held a place of great honor then due to life or circumstances beyond their control they leave the position. That person might have had the ear of important people and then they no longer do. I wonder if Job did not feel this way. At one time his word carried great weight. Now due to loss of possessions, children and even his own health his word was no longer respected.

As I read what Job said about falling from a place of respect my thoughts went to people who have lost jobs or even retired. So many at one time were people of influence. Then they come home and find themselves struggling because they haven’t changed. They still have the knowledge, experience, and and wisdom they had in days gone by. Yet those who at one time respected them no longer do. I wonder sometimes if this isn’t exactly how people feel when they are older.

As believers, how should we respond to those who might have lost jobs.positions or have retired and are again? One of the ways we can honor them is just to see them and treat them with respect. I wonder if many times these people don’t feel like they are invisible. To have someone see them and make them feel special esteems them. To listen to them and value their opinion is so important. Even asking them for insight into a specific project you are working on can make them feel like the knowledge they have is not being wasted. Whether or not you take their advice just listening and allowing them to have input does mean a lot.

I wonder if Job’s community had reached out to him the way he had reached out to them in the past if his story would have read much differently. if he had felt like he had someone in his corner or someone who honored him and respected his word. We can’t change everyone’s life, but we can live in such a way that we see and respect those who need a helping hand whether great or small.

Evil Prospers

Job 22-24: When you read the book of Job you hear his friends over and over speak the theology that if you sin you come to a bad end and that wicked people do not prosper. Somehow some in our world have bought into that theology and thought pattern, but if you look around in our world today you can quickly see that though that sounds good, the pattern just doesn’t hold. God does allow evil to continue and there are people acting in sin that prosper. So how is a believer supposed to process all of this?

Don’t follow their pattern! Though they are prospering, there will come a payday one day. Here is how Job put it.

Job 24:21 “They wrong the barren, childless woman,
and do no good to the widow.
22 Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power;
they rise up when they despair of life.
23 He gives them security, and they are supported,
and his eyes are upon their ways.
24 They are exalted a little while, and then are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like the heads of grain.

When the end time comes their end will definitely be different from the life of one who is a believer. Their final destination is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth according to Matthew 8 and 13.

I don’t understand why, but God in His sovereignty has allowed Satan to be Prince of the power of the air.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1–2)

God has allowed sin to reign here on earth For A TIME! One day God will say enough and the power God has given Satan and sin will cease. Because God has all authority in Heaven and Earth He will then take control and sin, death and even Satan will no longer be around God’s children.

So hold on sweet friends. Even though we see darkness around us, we know the end of the story. Have right theology and thinking. Yes sin does have power today but not for always and sinners do prosper, but to what end. If you are struggling with evil being rewarded remember the end has not yet come. Until then God is still in control and the best thing for us is to do life like God says. Yes we will go through hard times, but it is to make us stronger and for His be glory.

Suicide

Job 10-13: Suicide is a huge challenge for people from children up to seniors. Life seems to get so overwhelming and death looks like a place to rest. I don’t think Job was suicidal, but he raises questions many considering suicide think about. “Why was I born. I hate my life. Why won’t it all go away? When will I wake up and it all be over? What have I done? How can I go on?”

I know for many of you suicide seems a foreign concept, but I have talked to people from all walks of life that admit to thinking about it once. Here are some things that these people had in common.
They were physically tired
They were emotionally tired
They were overwhelmed by their current situation seeing no way of escape
They thought no one would miss them or that their absence would make it better or easier for someone else
Some could be reasoned out of it
Some just needed a listening ear and truth spoken
Some had need of a doctor to help them

As I read our passage today it reminded me that Job had all of these things going on in his life yet he found his purpose and meaning in something much deeper. He lived to please God. He longed to be in right standing with him. When his friends were not enough, God was. When he felt he had to defend himself, he knew he was standing before God humble and willing. He did not have all of the right answers. I am not sure he was even asking all of the right questions. He did express his frustration and hurts. That is not forbidden. He did acknowledge his own physical pains and question what he was to do.

Hurt and pain are part of life and we are all subject to that. Just because we are a child of God doesn’t mean life will be easy. Far from it. That is also why his friends’ theology was wrong. Christians do hurt. Christians do suffer. Life is not easy just because you are obedient. We live in a fallen world. Sickness, pain, loss are all a real part of this world. BUT we don’t suffer as those without hope. We know that God is still in control and our present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that is to come. God chooses our time to come to this earth and our time to depart. We can’t take that into our own hands, and what seems to be falling apart today may indeed just be falling into place. Trust Him. You are going to make it through whatever you are facing. Now rest, eat right, allow God the time and space to work it out.

Helping the Hurting

Job 6-9: One of the most challenging things about going through a hard time is feeling you are all alone. When Job was going through his losses and sickness he expressed those same feelings and he had friends around him. The alone feeling may just be because it is so hard for others to understand or comprehend all you are going through. They want to help, but don’t know how. Then there are other times when friends really aren’t there. Here is how Job put it.

Job 6:21 “For you have now become nothing;
you see my calamity and are afraid.”

Seeing what someone is going through and having fear is a response repeated more than we want to admit. Many times we don’t know what to say so we stay away. Other times we believe we will say the wrong thing and offend so we leave a wide birth. Fear takes on many forms and keeps us from being able to just be there for someone who needs us.

In Job’s case he felt like people stayed away because they feared him asking them for something. He had lost everything and now even his health was affected. They may have thought he would ask for finances or even favors. If he had been sinful they may just not have wanted to be pulled into his downfall.

It is evident Job’s friends did not understand his calamity and those who had at one time respected him now treated him with disdain.

What can we learn from this? When friends are hurting they need you. Don’t allow fear or not understanding keep you away. When friends get sick or have great loss, they need our friendship then as much or more than when things were good. You don’t have to have all of the answers. Sometimes just a prayer for strength is what they need. Don’t feel the need to explain things. Some things just have no explanation. I have often said chocolate fixes many things. Take them brownies or their favorite candy bar and just be with them. It is not about our wisdom, but our presence.

Love them well without fear. “Perfect love casts our fear.” We love others because He first loved us. In these cases. we are given the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Don’t miss that blessing.

Giving the Blessing

Genesis 47-50: Have you received a blessing from your parents? In Old Testament days parents would give a blessing to their children and grandchildren before they died. In Genesis 48 Jacob blessed Joseph and his sons.
48:5And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Passing on a blessing can alter the course of one’s life. I remember as a child my own father holding both of my hands, looking me in my eyes and saying. “Page, I love you. I have always loved you and always will. I may not always agree with the decisions you make, but I will always always love you.”

Through the years I have seen good times and hard times, but in all that time I knew one thing for sure. My parents truly loved me. I was theirs. My mom used to tell my brother “Remember whose name you carry.” A reminder to each of us is that God loves us as well. We carry His name and our life should reflect that. The blessing of the Father is on us. He longs for us to walk daily in His presence and know His strength.

I will forever be grateful to my earthly father and my Heavenly Father for the assurance of their blessing on my life. If you haven’t blessed your children, why not pray about that today. Then when the time is right speak words of strength and encouragement to them. You never know what a difference it could make in their lives.

Releasing The Old To Receive The New

Genesis 44-46: “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” That saying may be true, but if the old dog is hungry enough he can and will learn. That was true for Jacob as his sons returned to tell him the good news that his son Joseph was alive and wanted him to come to Egypt to live. The famine was severe in his homeland and in order to survive he would need to move. The information of his son being alive and the summons to come to Egypt was almost too much to take in. Jacob could not believe it until he looked outside and saw the wagons prepared to take he and all of his family. Even then, it was God to reassured him that it was okay to move.

Can’t. you just see Jacob and his clan moving. I wonder if it was like the Beverly Hillbillies with rocking chair and granny sitting on top. Can’t you just imagine the reunion as Joseph’s head fell on his Father’s neck as he wept a long time. Wonder what their conversations were. How many times do you think either or both said, “I just can’t believe you are here!”

Once again we see God’s hand directing and guiding through difficult waters. God had a plan but the men had to be willing to leave their familiar to receive what God had in store.

How about you? Is God doing something in your life that is going to take releasing what you have or where you are today in order to embrace the new thing He has for you? It can be scary or even intimidating. Even as Jacob stood before Pharaoh don’t you know he had some anxieties? You too may have anxious thoughts as you face your new surroundings, but take heart, the best really may be yet to come. Trust God and walk through the doors He opens.

Consistency

Genesis 38-40: Consistency is hard for anyone, but it is especially difficult when you feel you have been wronged. Joseph could have claimed being wrongly enslaved and even imprisoned as reasons to hate God or even turn against his faith.
Instead of running from God, he ran to Him. When Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce him, his response was how could I sin against God? Even when the baker and cup bearer were needing dreams interpreted Joseph made it clear that God interprets dreams. By shining the light on God and his relationship with God Joseph reveals the key to his success. It is God.
You may find yourself in a mess not of your own making. It may be tempting to shake your fist at God and tell him it is His fault. You may even question the validity of believing in God. Don’t allow what Satan means for evil to make you miss what God is allowing so that He can develop in you qualities you will need for days to come.
Joseph had no idea what God had in store, but God did. He knew that in order for Joseph to be ready to lead he had to first learn character traits that come from serving time in hard places. Consistency in his walk with God prepared Joseph for the hard days. God was with Joseph in the hard and dark places. He never left Joseph even when Joseph became discouraged because things were not working out as Joseph planned. God had greater plans and in the end God’s plan would not just save Joseph or his family. It would save 2 entire nations from famine.
Be patient as God does His work in you. Be consistent in your relationship with Him. Great things could be just around the corner.

Such Sadness

Genesis 34-37: I have had so many thoughts about this passage. Not all that I am ready or even able to share. My heart hurts for Dinah. Sexual abuse is nothing new. It has marked history from early days. It always takes a toll not just on the one offended, but on their family and friends sometimes even for generations to come. One may be violated, but it affects many.

Again deceit causes chaos for this family as the brothers take their revenge on not just the man that raped their sister, but on every man, woman and child in the village. They had persuaded the men to be circumcised leaving them weak and unable to protect their village. Two of Jacob’s sons took revenge and killed all of the men. Some of the other sons came to the village and took all of the possessions and families. This caused Jacob’s family to be feared, but not for the right reasons. Such sadness brought by a sexual sin that grew into something that took lives.

I am not trying to be politically correct or even join a movement. The scripture makes it very clear that sin hurts so many.

If you have been sexually abused please know my heart breaks for you. It was not right. No one deserves to be hurt in this way. Don’t allow what Satan meant for evil to hold you in prison for the rest of your life.

Dinah’s brothers took revenge and it affected them and their families the rest of their lives. I wonder how Dinah felt. Did she see the faces of wives and children her brothers had taken and feel guilt? Revenge may see sweet at first, but it can also be a poison that is long lasting. Allow God to exact His revenge. Release your anger to Him and allow Him to heal you.

There are no easy answers to feeling whole again. Letting go of bitterness and anger are a huge first step. Then allow God to heal your broken heart.

Deception Comes at a High Price

Genesis 30-33: I was pondering this morning how disobedience to God was not new with Jacob and Esau and their families, but they seemed to kick the deception game to another level. It was so rampant throughout their stories. They are not small lied either. They are life altering lies that they knew they would have to answer for. In my simple mind I would think that they would go back and redo to make the situation right.

For example when Esau came in and revealed that Isaac can been deceived in giving the blessing, it just seems like they would redo and take it back from Jacob and give it to Esau and punish Jacob’s deception. The same with Laban and his deception over his daughters. What has been passed down by each generation has been magnified by the next.

Today even the deception of leaving without telling Laban. Did Jacob and family not think he would be hacked when he found out? He did and he was. God’s word to Laban is the only thing that kept the peace.

Deception carries such a heavy toll. It splits up families. It causes much heart ache and grief. It steals, kills and destroys. Sounds like the devil’s calling card for sure.

Sure it can be hard to tell the truth sometimes, but the end result of a lie is much more devastating. It may take you longer to acquire what you desire, but if you are to have whatever you desire, it will come and you won’t have to lie. You also won’t have to pay the price when it is revealed that you lie. Your reputation is worth much more than anything you might desire.

The best way to say it is probably “Truth always prevails.” That is a great reminder to all of us. Stay far away from the enemy’s plan. It always costs way too much and takes you to places you have no desire to go.

Quick Learners

Genesis 27-29: Are you a slow learner? There are things that I pick up quickly and learn easily. There are other things that it has taken me years to really learn.

I think Jacob was a slow learner as well. Granted he saw things were wrong. He knew that lying to his dad was wrong, but he trusted his mom and obeyed her. He knew it would have bad consequences. Who wouldn’t! When Esau came home and his dad was confused Jacob knew he would be found out yet he did it anyway. Slow! Slow learning can cause lots of hurt and chaos.

Jacob was in a 20 year course on the effects of deceit when he went to Laban and worked with him for his brides. I wonder if deep down after 7 years of labor and getting the wrong girl, I wonder if he thought, “I deserved this because of what I did to my brother.” I wonder if he was even then feeling the long term effects of deceit and lying. Did he hate Leah even more not because of what Laban did, but because of what he had done to his own brother?

The take home for me from this passage was deceit always comes with a high cost. Learning the effects of it early and running from it are a must. Even with the knowledge of its effects, if you are not willing to tell the truth you will repeat the lessons over and over until truth becomes your default. We haven’t gotten to it yet in our reading but soon God will change Jacob’s name from deceiver to Israel. Through this man the 12 tribes of Israel will come and through Judah his son will come the Son of God.

May we all become quick learners and run from the chaos of deception.