Monday, November 25, 2019

GRATEFUL JOB: Finding Gratitude in Times of Adversity

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays! Even as a child I preferred it over Christmas.  Christmas often brought disappointment but Thanksgiving...never!

I learned early to enjoy the simple things in life: shelter, warmth, clothing, health, and of course food!  Especially food. I can remember being without a lot of things growing up, but food wasn't one of them.

It wasn't always fancy or what I wanted but it was plentiful and nourishing and provided the sustenance needed to face another day. No matter what that day might bring.  I guess that's why in some contexts,  it is called comfort food! And it's a rare Thanksgiving holiday when comfort food, does not make an appearance in a meal! 

It may seem strange to you that I chose the story of Job to highlight in my Thanksgiving blog post!  Actually, I think it's kind of perfect!  This Old Testament story is a common one when you think of unbearable pain, suffering, and hopelessness, but I see it differently.  I find in it a great source of comfort and a powerful illustration of gratitude during this, my own personal time of loss. (Earlier this month I lost an older brother.)

The book of Job is perhaps the oldest book in the Old Testament. Job, our protagonist was a patriarch before the Israelite race was established, but like the Jews, a forerunner of much adversity.  Like the Jewish race he was chosen by God to endure trials, pain, and evil at the hands of Satan.   Job was in fact anointed, commissioned, and ordained, if you will, to survive the unthinkable and then receive the Lord's blessings!

Job lost his children, property, health, and the respect of his wife and friends.  Still he remained grateful.  You may be saying to yourself: How is that even possible?  I can barely make it through today's challenges!  This is where God provides a little comfort food for the soul from His word!  

Grateful Job understood that everything he had and all he would ever have comes from the hand of God.  We own nothing, not even our lives and even that is given back when we die:

"And he said, Naked I came from my mother's womb, and 
naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord
has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)

Grateful Job knew that even in his pain, God had a higher and more divine purpose for his suffering.  He did not know it fully but endured with faith because of God's sovereignty:

"Then Job answered the Lord and said: I know that 
you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours
can be thwarted." (Job 42:1-2)

Grateful Job had benefitted from past experience, the love and provisions of God. He did not fear his destiny: 

"You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit
me together with bones and sinews. You have granted
me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit."
(Job 10: 11-12)

Grateful Job maintained his spiritual integrity when things were at their worst and he could see no end but death to the trials he was undergoing:

"Though he slay me I will hope in him; but I
will maintain mine own ways before him." 
(Job 13:15)

As you sit before your Thanksgiving meal, pause to give thanks to God for the spiritual food He has provided as well as the physical.  There may be an empty place once occupied by a loved one or a dish or two missing from last year's fare.  Regardless of the circumstances in your life be grateful!  Meditate on the following verses while you eat and leave your table content and full of God's blessings and don't be afraid to share....there will be plenty of leftovers!

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than
honey to my mouth!  (Psalm 119:103)

"O, Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes
refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and they became to me
joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven's Armies (Jeremiah 15:16)


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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

HANDS UP! You're Surrounded!

"The battle is not yours, it's 
the Lord's." (2 Chron. 20:15)
Growing up during the infancy of television, many of my favorite shows were detectives.  Do you remember Dragnet, Peter Gunn, and Perry Mason?

Inevitably, somewhere just before nabbing the bad guys the cops would yell: Come out with your hands're surrounded!  You knew then that it wouldn't be long before the criminals would be locked up and society would again be safe from their antics!

However, I'd like you to think of this phrase in a different context.  From the perspective of an Old Testament story that has become for me a go-to passage when I'm feeling overwhelmed! Times when Satanic attacks are coming fast and furious!

In Second Chronicles 20:12, Judah's King Jehoshaphat feels the impact from foolish alliances he has made.  He's caught in a battle surrounded by his enemies. Once a faithful follower of God, he rejected the Almighty's care and guidance and now he doesn't know what to do! (Maybe you can relate!)

Here's a question to consider dear sisters:  What do you do, when you don't know what to do?   The answer is simple...

 Turn to God... Cry Out to God... Put your Faith in God!

That's what King Jehoshaphat did!  After a sincere and heartfelt time of repentance, he merely surrendered his will to God's.  He acknowledged the futility of his own selfish desire, and impotent schemes to deal with his enemies and simply put his hands up and acquiesced to God's authority!  We must do the same!

Go ahead!  Read the rest of the story and find out how God gave Jehoshaphat victory.  It wasn't by putting the most fierce warriors on the front lines to fight! It was by sending out the Praisers (2 Chronicles 20:21-23).  What will you do when Satan tries to take your marriage, kill your children, bankrupt your finances, poison your health, or steal your mind with anxiety and worry? When everywhere you look there's a new challenge staring you in the face!  Let me say to you the same words that the prophet Jahaziel said to Jehoshaphat:

"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. 
 For the battle is not yours, but God's" (2 Chronicles 20:15) 

Put Your Hands Up!  First in Surrender to the Lord God to have His way in your life!

Put Your Hands Up!  Second in Prayer submitting to His instructions no matter how foolish!

Put Your Hands Up!   Third in Faith, knowing what He's already done He can do again!

Put Your Hands Up!  Third in Praise because He's good no matter what the outcome!

As a lyric from the song  Surrounded, Fight My Battle by the group Upper Room states: 

It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You.
It may look like I'm surrounded but I know the truth, I know
the truth..Praise is how I fight my battles!


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