Why am I Suffering?

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November 27, 2022

For the past 2 weeks we have been reading the book Job which is the oldest book of the Bible. The time period that it was written was before Moses. It is considered poetry.

The theme of Job revolves around the question, “How can God allow suffering, especially to those that are innocent?”

In Job chapter 1 we find out that Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters, and owned many animals and had many servants. He was very wealthy. He would sacrifice burnt offerings for his children just in case they sinned or cursed God.

During this time there was something happening behind the scenes, in the spiritual realm. The angels presented themselves to God, and Satan came with them. God asked Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan responded that he had been roaming through the earth going back and forth. The Lord asked Satan if he had considered his servant Job because he was blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Satan felt that Job was good only because he had not encountered difficulty. Job 1:12 says, “The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Thus, God allowed Satan to cause suffering, even though Job was a good man.

In a very short amount of time, Job found out that all of his animals and servants were killed by the Serbeans (Arabs), Chaldeans (Mesopotamians) and by fire. He then found out that all 10 children were killed by a wind storm that caused his house to collapse on them. With all of this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22). He did say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD by praised.”

Satan came back to the LORD again. The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Then Satan wanted to strike Job’s skin. He felt he maintained his integrity because his body was intact. The LORD allowed Satan to strike Job again. This time he developed painful sores from the top of his head to the bottom of the feet. Then Satan used his wife to tempt Job. She says in Job 1:9-10 “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”

In Chapter 3 Job does curse the day he was born, but never curses God. He has 3 friends who come and say nothing to him and just sit with him for 7 days. But from chapters 4-37, Job and his friends have long conversations about the suffering Job is experiencing. Job continues to say that he has done nothing wrong. His friends do not believe him. They feel that God is punishing Job because of sin in his life and he must repent in order to be in God’s good grace. They are not very kind. Job says in 16:2 “I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you!” Job’s suffering is terrible. Job 19:17-20 says, “My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers. Even the little boys scorn me; All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am mothing but skin and bones. I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.” Job defends himself further stating that the wicked prosper at times, and the righteous suffer.

In chapter 30 Job cries out to God, but states he does not listen. Job 30:20 says, “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.” He says in 31:35 “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense-let the Almighty answer; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.”

In chapter 32 we find the 3 men stop talking to Job because “he was righteous in his own eyes.” A new man, Elihu (means YHWH is my God), who is younger, then begins to speak with Job. He condemns the 3 friends because “they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him” (32:3). He condemned Job because he kept saying he was without sin in chapters 32, 33, and 35. In chapters 36 and 37 he talked about the greatness of God.

Even with Elihu, Job does not get an answer about why he is suffering. In chapter 38, the LORD speaks. He asks Jobs 77 rhetorical questions about the creation and nature that Job cannot answer. An example is 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God’s purpose in this was to show Job how big God was and how small Job was. After the questioning, Job was humbled. In Job 40:2-4 God asks, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer-twice, but I will say no more.” In chapter 42:2-6, Job says to the LORD, ““I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” We see more humility from Job, along with glorifying God, and asking for forgiveness.

After this conversation, the LORD told Job’s friends he was angry with them because of what they said about God, and to Job. He had them sacrifice a burnt offering. He then had Job pray for the friends, and accept Job’s prayer and withhold judgement. After Job prayed, the LORD made him prosperous again. He had double the animals, 7 more sons and 3 more daughters, and his reputation was restored in the community.

The first question is, “Why do we suffer?”

  1. Sin: We have to go back to the garden in Genesis. God wanted us to live in perfect harmony with Him. But, he gave us a choice to love Him or not. He wanted obedience and Adam and Eve were not obedient. When Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground. Genesis 3:17-19 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Because of this curse, we will always have pain and suffering. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” No matter who you are or how good of a person, or how godly you are, pain and suffering will happen. Job is a great example. God said he was righteous and blameless and he allowed this to happen to him.
  2. Satan: Satan (which means opponent or adversary) is the originator of sin. He tempted Adam and Eve and got them to sin (Genesis 3:1-6). We can see in Job that Satan was roaming around the earth looking for someone to tempt and cause calamity. He authored the pain and suffering that Job experienced. We do learn that it had to go through God. And that is when we question God.

The second question is, “Why does God allow the suffering?” God wants to be glorified. He also wants to build our character, our strength and our trust in Him.

  1. God wants to be glorified: Job did this well. While he suffered, he did not curse God. He was a great witness. Where I use to go to church, one of the pastors, Dr. Bob Laurent, use to talk about “shiny people.” These were people who were sick and dying, yet glorified God wherever they went. They had a certain glow about them because of their faith in the Lord, and they shown His light wherever they went. When each one of us suffers, we have a choice as to how we handle the situation. We can be a witness to God, or we can curse Him.
  2. God wants us to be humble: Job was humbled after he heard from God. He realized that while he was righteous, he was not perfect. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Also, think of Paul. God allowed Paul to see heaven, and he had reasons to think he was great. 2 Corinthians 12:6-12 says “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  3. God wants to give us patience and strength: James 5:10-11 says, “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Job suffered, yet did not sin against God with his words. He was patient through his suffering. Why is this important? Because patience builds strength. Isaiah 40:31 says, “those that hope (means wait) upon the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
  4. God wants to give us perseverance, character and hope: Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The Expositors Bible commentary says this about suffering and hope in these verses. “They help to produce character, and approved Christian character finds its ultimate resting place in the presence of God, not in a grave. By the tutelage of suffering the Lord is fitting us for his eternal fellowship. Paul then makes it plain that this hope is not just a pious wish, for it does not put one to shame. It does not disappoint, because it is coupled with the love of God (v.5). Human love may bring disappointment and frustration, but not the love of God. Subjective desire is supported by an objective divine gift guaranteeing the realization of an eternal fellowship with God.”
  5. God wants to get our attention: An example in the Bible is from the book of Jonah. God wanted him to go to Nineveh. Jonah did not listen. God had Jonah in the belly of a whale for 3 days. I think God got his attention. He may not go to such extremes with us, but he will get our attention somehow. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” He also may want to draw you closer to him. Through tragedy, many people seek the LORD. He may want you to know Him as your LORD and Savior.  
  6. God wants to reveal your true character: When Job suffered, he asked God a lot of questions. He did not understand why these terrible things had to happen, but he never sinned. His wife, however, wanted Job to curse God and die. Which person are you when suffering occurs. As said by a pastor, “suffering does not create character, it reveals it.”
  7. God wants to prepare you for a certain task: Joseph suffered much, but it prepared him to be 2nd in command. His brothers had sold him into slavery. After many hardships, Joseph was 2nd in command. His brothers thought Joseph was angry with them. He was not. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

These are just a few of the reasons God allows us to suffer. He is divine. We must trust him. He loves us so much he sent his Son to die for us on a cross. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We may find out the reason for our suffering here on earth, or may have to wait until we get to heaven. We won’t always know why. Job asked God 5 times in chapter 3 “why?” Jesus asked God why when he was dying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).

Are you going through a trial or tribulation? It may be your health, a job or lack of job, stress in your marriage or with your children. If you are struggling, I hope that this will help you understand a little more about possible reasons why. Pray to the Lord and talk to Him honestly and openly without sinning. He may answer your questions, he may not. But know that you are not walking the difficulty alone. He is with you the whole time. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Next week we will read Psalm 1-30. Have a blessed week!

References: sermons from Pat Damiani, Toby Powers, Dennis Lee, Greg Laurie

This week I will not be posting. We read the beginning of Job, and I would like to finish the book this week before discussing. The topic is so difficult, “why bad things happen to good people” and I want to ensure the message is complete in the week.

A Surprise Party from God

My daughter at age 4

November 13, 2022

This week we read the book of Esther. Before we talk about the book, I want to share about a time where God had plans for my life that I was not aware. I call this situation “my surprise party from God.”

Think about what happens before a surprise party. Someone who loves you makes plans that you are unaware of. They arrange a party with food, activities, people, and gifts and you are clueless. Then you come home or to the event space and “Surprise!” There is a very special day awaiting you.

This happened to me on March 28, 2002, the day my daughter was born. You see, I wasn’t planning on having a 3rd child. I had 2 boys age 2 and 3. After my 2nd child was born, I struggled with post-partum depression, and did not want any more children. Because of this, my husband had “the surgery.” I felt very strongly for some time that I did not want any more children, and that included adoption, even though my husband really wanted to adopt. I did not know my husband was praying for my heart to change.

A few months before my daughter was born, I babysat for a friend who just had a newborn girl. After watching her, “I wish I could have another baby.” Also, at the time my husband was struggling with his work. We were both really going through a difficult time.

On March 27, 2002, I had been praying for whatever God’s next step was in my life. I felt there was going to be a change, but did not know what it was. I read these verses along with others, in the Bible that night while praying:

  1. Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
  2.  29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  3. Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

That night my husband, a physician, called about midnight. A teenage girl had been in an accident with her boyfriend, was pregnant, and came into the ER. She thought she was 20 weeks pregnant and asked for help. He told her he would do whatever it took. When he called me, he asked if I would be willing to adopt a child if she wanted us to be the child’s parents. I said, “yes.” She was taken to the OB floor, and the next morning transferred to a high-risk OB hospital. We did not think we would hear anything more. That night, about 5:00 pm we received a phone call from a social worker at the hospital the woman had been transferred. She was not 20 weeks pregnant, but 30 weeks, and delivered the baby girl. The baby was healthy, and she wanted us to be the adoptive parents.

We were ecstatic, but did not know the next steps. We prayed a lot. It was the day before Good Friday, and I knew nothing about adoption. I called an adoption agency and they were closed. I talked with friends, and one told me about a group in Indianapolis that helped write the adoption laws. I called them and they called us back. They first asked if we wanted to adopt a different child and give this one to someone else. We, of course, said “no.” They told us to meet them at the hospital 2 hours away that evening with cash in hand. We had just happened to receive a large tax check, so actually had the cash available. I called my prayer partner Judy and she followed us to the hospital praying the whole way.  Everything was going so fast.

We met the social worker at the hospital and she took us up to meet the child’s parents. We had the opportunity to share Christ with them and pray. Many tears were shed. We signed the legal paperwork and got to meet our new daughter that day. She was in the Neonatal Intensive Care, but was doing very well. That day was March 29, 2002 and was the day that God gave me a surprise party.

At that time in our life, we were going through a difficult time. God knew this, but still had a great plan going on behind the scenes. He was taking care of the situation at my husband’s job so that he would be someone the birth mother would want to have as their child’s adoptive father. God changed my heart about adoption and about having another child. He enabled us to have the finances required for that day to adopt. He allowed this teenage girl to become pregnant and deliver a beautiful baby girl.

We thank God for that time in our life and for our daughter. She is 20 years old currently.

How does this relate to the story of Esther? God is working behind the scenes in Esther and has a great plan for her life.

Esther lost her parents as a child and was raised by her uncle Mordecai. King Xerxes had divorced his wife Queen Vashti and was going to have a new wife. Esther was brought to the king along with many other young women. The king chose her to be his wife. One day, Mordecai was at the gate and heard 2 men conspiring to kill the king. He told Esther, and she told the king and these men were put to death. This was written in the king’s log.

One of the king’s officials, Haman, was plotting to kill all the Jews. He manipulated the king to agree to the murder of the Jews on a specific day in all 127 provinces that he ruled over. Mordecai went to Esther tried to persuade her to talk with the king.

Esther 4:6-14 says, “Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

I want to point something out in the above verses. Mordecai says that if Esther remains silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from somewhere else. God’s plan was for the Jews to live on and if Esther would not step up, God would have someone else carry out His plan.

Then Mordecai said, “…who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai knew the God’s sovereign control. He knew that God was in control and had a plan and purpose. He thought that Esther was the Queen because of God’s plan to save the Jews.

Guess what? Queen Esther did reach out to the king. He granted her request, and in the end, the Jewish people were saved.

God is always at work in our lives, even though we don’t recognize it, just like someone throwing a surprise party. Esther’s “surprise party” was that God was working to have the Jewish nation saved from annihilation and He used a Jewish woman in the role of Queen to accomplish the work.

Question: How are you doing today? Are you wondering where God is in your life? Maybe you are not really even thinking about God.

God is in your life and He is working behind the scenes on your behalf. You may not know everything that He is doing, but he does.

Remember Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

Remember this verse as well, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Next week we will read Job 1-14. Have a blessed week.

Getting on Track with God

November 6, 2022

The Israelites had been in captivity for 70 years. In the book of Ezra we learn some of the Israelites were sent back to Jerusalem. Once there, the people rebuilt the temple. But the city was still in shambles. The wall around the city was down and there were people living in poverty.

The book of Nehemiah follows the book of Ezra and is also written by Ezra. Nehemiah is one of the last books of the Bible written of the Old Testament. There were more than 400 years between this book and the birth of Christ. Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Xerxes of Persia (Nehemiah 2:1). This meant he was a trusted leader in the King’s Court. He was the man who tasted the king’s wine to ensure it was not poisoned. Nehemiah had heard that the Jews, who moved back to Jerusalem, were having problems.  The temple had been rebuilt, but their city wall which gave them protection was still not rebuilt and they were having a hard time (Nehemiah 1:1-3). This saddened Nehemiah and he fasted and prayed for forgiveness of the sins of himself and the rest of the Israelites. He then went to the king, prayed again, and asked the king if he could be sent to Judah to rebuild the city wall (Nehemiah 2:5). The king granted his request, made him governor, and went to Jerusalem. Even with opposition from neighboring cities, Nehemiah was able to enlist the help of others and rebuild the city walls in 52 days. Along with the rebuilding, he helped the poor, which were many because there was not enough grain and many did not have enough money to live and so were in slavery.

After the temple was rebuilt the people’s heart needed to be rebuilt as well, and we will be discussing this from chapter 8 and 9 of Nehemiah.

Once the temple was rebuilt and the residents were settled into town “all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1).

  • Notice that it was the people who asked to have the Word read to them.

Nehemiah 8:2-3 says, “So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.”

  • Remember in Old Testament time, people did not have Bibles. The priest read from a scroll in the temple where the people gathered.
  • Ezra read for about 6 hours (from daybreak to noon). This shows how much the people wanted to hear from God’s Word.
  • Everyone listened attentively.

Nehemiah 8:6 says, “Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen, Amen! Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”

  • Ezra praised the Lord, and the people showed great reverence to the Lord by bowing down with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:7-8 says, “The Levites – Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah – instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.”

  • Not only did Ezra read the Law, but the Levites did as well. They also helped the people to understand what was being read.

Nehemiah 8:9 says, “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.”

  • The people were convicted because of their sin and were weeping, but were told not to weep because this was a holy day to the LORD.

Nehemiah 8:10-11 says, “Nehemiah said, Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”

  • Again, the Israelites were told to celebrate and enjoy God’s goodness and to not grieve any longer over their sins.

Nehemiah 8:13-14 says, “On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the teacher to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters” as it is written. So the people went out and brough back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.”

  • They listened to what the God’s Word said, and realized they were not following the Law. Instead of fussing, they followed the Law immediately. They put the Word into action.

Nehemiah 9:2-3 says, “They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession an in worshiping the LORD their God…They cried out with loud voices to the LORD their God. And the Levites…said: Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

  • They continued to have the Word read to them, even though they had heard it before. They asked forgiveness for their sins, and then worshipped and praised the LORD.

After this, the Israelites went into a prayer that described all that had happened to their forefathers in the desert and the sins of the nation and how there were consequences to those sins.

Nehemiah 9:38 says, “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”

  • Like a marriage license has a signature stating that you’re are bound together, this was a binding agreement between the Israelites and God.

What can we learn from reading Nehemiah about getting on track with God?

  1. Read His Word or go to church and get spiritual nourishment.
  2. Get the help from teachers or study Bibles if you need, in order to understand what the Bible is saying.
  3. If you are not following God’s Word or living in sin, ask forgiveness, and then take the necessary steps to live obediently to God.  
  4. Celebrate the “joy of the LORD” because He is “our strength.”
  5. Do not wallow in your sin. Believe God has forgiven you, and then move on.
  6. Pray.
  7. Have the appropriate respect and reverence to the LORD. Worship Him.
  8. Continue to read the Bible, even if you have read it before.
  9. Make a covenant with God, which looks a little different today. A covenant today means a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Where are you in your relationship with God? Do you want to get back in relationship with Him? Maybe you have never had a relationship with the Lord. If you have not and are interested in a relation with the Lord, please let me know and I will walk you through or answer any question you may have.

Next week we will read the entire book of Esther.

Handling Opposition When doing God’s Work

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

October 30, 2022

This week we read the book of Ezra. The author also wrote 1 and 2 Chronicles. Remember at the end of Chronicles the people of Judah were taken captive for 70 years by the Babylonians lead by king Nebuchadnezzar. He carried off all the articles from God’s temple, set fire to the temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem.

The Babylonians were then overtaken by the Persians as predicted in Isaiah 44:28. The king of Persia said this, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”

Thus, because the Jews disobeyed God, they were taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years. It was God’s plan to then have them released and the temple rebuilt through the orders of Cyrus, the king of Persia, even though he was not Jewish himself.

This caused a lot of excitement amongst everyone. There were many that went back to Judah, and the rebuilding of the temple ensued. The temple altar was made, the people worshipped and sacrificed burnt offerings to the Lord.

After the altar was finished, the foundation was laid for the temple. The people praised and worshipped the LORD saying in Ezra 3:11, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

Everything was looking wonderful for the people of Judah. They were able to go back to their own country again and started to build their temple. They were praising God.

But what happened? Opposition stepped in and tried to thwart the ministry and will of God.

Let’s look at the book of Ezra and see the opposition the people of Judah received, and then how they handled it.

The first opposition the people of Judah face is somewhat hidden. Ezra 4:1-3 states, “When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

  1. The people wanted to distort the truth of God and try to draw you away from His will. These people wanted to help with the building of the temple. That does not seem to be opposition. The problem was they were enemies of Judah and Benjamin. They also were being disingenuous about seeking after God and sacrificing to him. 2 Kings 17:33 states, “They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. ”They wanted the people of Judah to think they were like them, and that stated they wanted to help, but they truly were enemies. We read a warning that relates to situations such as this in Acts 20:28-31, “28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God,[a] which he bought with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard.”
  2. The people tried to discourage and make them afraid. Ezra 4:4-5 states “Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia, and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.” There was further opposition under king Xerxes and Artaxerxes. We do not know exactly what was done to discourage the people but we do know it went on for a long time because it was 16 years from the reign of Cyrus to the reign of Darius.
  3. The people frustrated their plans.  Ezra 4:6 says, “They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.
  4. The people falsely accused them. At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes,[b] they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem. They even wrote a letter to the king.
  5. They people threaten them. Ezra 4:15 says, “Furthermore, the king should know that if this city is built and its walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid, and eventually the royal revenues will suffer.[e] 14 Now since we are under obligation to the palace and it is not proper for us to see the king dishonored, we are sending this message to inform the king, 15 so that a search may be made in the archives of your predecessors. In these records you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates.”

After this Ezra 4:24 says, “Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.”

They stopped building the temple for about 16 years. Then Haggai the prophet came and prophesied and they started rebuilding the temple again. This was without the knowledge of the king. The new king found the wording that Cyrus wanted the temple built. Ezra 6:14 says “They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.”

I think we can learn something from the book of Ezra and the Israelites.

God had a plan for the Israelites to go back to Judah and rebuild the temple. They started implementing the plan, were excited, and then met opposition.

I know I have felt like the Israelites in the past when trying to accomplish or live by God’s will. I started a ministry, things were going well, and then was met with a lot of opposition. There was a lot of discouragement and fear. Through a lot of prayer the ministry continued, but it was not easy.

Remember, Satan does not want God’s will to prevail and he will try to derail the work of God. God allows it to test our faith. The question is, “how will we respond to opposition?” Do we lose sight of God’s will for us? Do we stop what we are doing? The Israelites had to stop because they were met with physical force. But once they heard from the LORD through the prophet Haggai, they started the work again. Ultimately, they were able to complete the temple as God commanded.

When we are starting something new that God wants us to do, we will have opposition. It may be in the form of distorting the truth, discouragement, fear, frustrated plans, being falsely accused, threats, or something else. Satan does not want God’s plans to continue. Remember what Jesus said in John 14:1, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” We also need to remember what 2 Corinthians 15:58 says: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

When we find opposition to the work of the Lord, we need to stand firm, seek the Lord through prayer, and give ourselves fully to Him. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We also need to seek Him through his Word for encouragement. Romans 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Next week we will read Nehemiah, the entire book.

Will God Forgive Me?

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October 23, 2022

This week we finished reading 2 Chronicles. We read about the different kings and how some were good, and some evil. If you remember, of the 20 kings in Judah, 8 of them were good. This week we are going to talk about an evil king who turned good. His name was Manasseh.

We see how bad this king was in 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, “Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his children in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.

He took the image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your ancestors, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and regulations given through Moses.” But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”

King Manasseh basically spit in God’s face. He built altars in God’s temple and worshipped other gods, sacrificed his own children to the god Moloch by having them burned on an altar, and more. He led the people to act more evil than any nation before.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and the people of Judah through prophets but they did not listen or turn from their evil ways. Because of this, the LORD handed Manasseh over to the Assyrian leaders. 2 Chronicles 33:11 says, “So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.”

The Bible does not say that Manasseh looked to all of the gods he worshipped previously. 2 Chronicles 33:12 says, “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”

Manasseh was truly repentant and because of that the LORD listened to him, forgave him, and brought him back to Jerusalem.

Manasseh did not just talk the talk after God forgave him. He changed. 2 Chronicles 33:14-15 states, Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah.

15 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. 16 Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. 17 The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.”

Manasseh was evil. More so than others we’ve read about in the Bible. God still forgave him. God can also forgive you.

How can you get forgiveness and salvation from God today?

  1. Realize that you are a sinner. In Romans 3:23 the Bible says that we are all sinners. “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
  2. Know that God wants to give you the free gift of eternal life. Romans 6:23 states For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. There is no sin too great for God, and he will forgive you while you are committing sin. If you remember the story of King Manasseh, you will know God will forgive you if you are truly sincere and repentant. Romans 5:8 says that he loves us even when we sin and forgives us. “While were still sinners Christ died for us.”
  4. Ask for forgiveness of your sins in the name of Jesus. On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the crowd about Jesus’ death, resurrection and forgiveness of sins. They asked in Acts 2:37, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
  5. Have faith, believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth: Romans 10:9-10 shows us how we can be “saved”: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

If you want forgiveness like King Manasseh, and are not quite sure how to pray, here is an example of a prayer of surrender from Christianity.com

“Dear God, I come before you today with a humble heart and surrender my life to you. I believe that Jesus Christ was born free of sin, died on the cross as a payment for my own sin, and rose three days later. I believe in your gift of salvation and eternal life because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God, today I repent and turn from my old way of life. Because of your mercy and grace, I can have childlike faith. Today I ask for new life through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, God for forgiving me and making me brand new. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer, please let me know. I want to support you in your new life. I also encourage you to get involved with a Christian Church so that you can grow in your faith.

Next week we will be reading the entire book of Ezra. Have a blessed week.

The battle is the LORD’s

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October 16, 2022

This week our reading was 2 Chronicles 11-20. These chapters focused on the kings of Judah after Solomon. Out of the 20 kings of Judah, only 8 were considered good kings. The chapters assigned for this week focused on Rehoboam who was evil, Abijah who was evil, Asa who was good, and Jehoshaphat who was good. We are going to discuss Chapter 20, which is when Jehoshaphat was king.  

2 Chronicles 17:3-6 says, “The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. …His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.”

During Jehoshaphat’s reign, he showed devotion to the LORD and turned his people to the Him as well. Even with his devotion, he found that trouble was on the way. This is what I want to delve in to. We can learn the steps Jehoshaphat followed to deal with the problem, and apply them to our lives when we encounter difficulty.

2 Chronicles 20:2 states, “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea.”

Problem:

  1. An impending attack: Jehoshaphat, even though he had devoted himself to the LORD, found he was going to be attacked by 3 different armies. This was his problem or difficulty. What is the difficulty you may be facing?
  2. Fear: 2 Chronicles 20:3 states the king was “alarmed.” The word in Hebrew means frightened or afraid. Because the people were going to be attacked, the king was afraid. Are you afraid because of the difficulty you are or will be facing?

Steps the king took:

  1. Consult the LORD: 2 Chronicles 20:3 states, “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD.” The king did not consult his court, his wife, or his friends. He consulted the LORD. This is something we should do as well.  There are times we go to others first, and if we have not found a solution, we then consult God. Why not consult the LORD the first?
  2. Fast: 2 Chronicles 20:3 states, “he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” This is the first time in the Bible that we see a fast proclaimed by a king. He wanted all to given up a bodily requirement for a time, to be humble and seek the LORD .
  3. Ask others to pray and seek help: 2 Chronicles 20:4 states, “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD, indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
  4. Prays with others and remembers what God has done in the past: 2 Chronicles 20:5-9 states, “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.”
  5. Be humble, trust, and look to the LORD: 2 Chronicles 20:12 states, “…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

God’s response:

  1. He wants us to listen to Him:  2 Chronicles 20:15 states, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! “When we pray to God, we need to listen for His response.
  2. Do not be afraid: 2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the vast army. “
  3. God is the reason we don’t need to fear: 2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” This is one of my favorite verses. We need to give it to God so he can fight the battle for us.
  4. Face the battle, but watch the LORD is with you and will deliver you from the fight: 2 Chronicles 20:17 states, “Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”

What the people did:

  1. Worshipped and praised the LORD: 2 Chronicles 20:18-19 says, “Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”
  2. Had faith in the LORD and continued to praise Him: 2 Chronicles 20:20-21 states, “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tedoa. As they set out, Jegoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful. After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as then went out at the head of the army, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”

God did fight the battle for Jehoshaphat and the people. He and the men of Judah did not have to lift a finger to win this battle and those from Judah were successful.

I don’t know what is going on in your life. What problem or difficulty you may be facing. It could be a physical ailment, or something financial. You could be having relationship difficulty. What ever the issue is, take the steps that Jehoshaphat took. Turn to God first in prayer. Praise the Lord for what he has done already in your life. Listen and don’t worry about the situation. Know that the LORD will fight the battle for you. Don’t run away. Don’t drown your sorrows in things of this world. Fight the battle with the best weapon, the LORD. Worship and praise the LORD and give thanks to the LORD for his love does endure forever.

Will God always answer your prayers with a “yes”, as He did here. He may answer “yes”, “no” or “wait”. Thus, here are a few more tips about praying in a difficult situation.

  1. Pray for God’s will. Pray as Christ prayed in the garden before he was to be crucified.  Matthew 26:39 says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” We pray in God’s will.
  2. Don’t be anxious: Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Again, give the matter over to God and let Him fight the battle.
  3. Accept God’s will no matter the answer: In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul states, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul prayed 3 times to have this pain taken away, but it was not. Paul accepts God’s “no” as his answer to prayer. There will be times God says “no’ to us as well. Let us try to be as Paul and accept our weakness and let God shine through us.

Are you trying to take control of a difficult situation in your life? Give it to the LORD and let him fight your battle.

Next week we will read 2 Chronicles 21-36. Have a blessed weeks.

Seeking God’s Presence

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October 2, 2022

This week we started 2 Chronicles. This is a summary of what we read in Samuel and Kings. First Chronicles was all about King David. He was not able to build the temple because  “you are a warrior and have shed blood” (1 Chronicles 28:3). David prepared for the building of the temple, but he did not actually build the temple.

David had many sons, but appointed Solomon to be king, as God directed. Solomon built the temple to the Lord. It was filled with gold and worth millions to billions in today’s economy. Once the temple was complete, Solomon said a prayer to dedicate the temple (2 Chronicles 6).

After Solomon prayed, the Lord appeared to him. The Lord said to Solomon, “I have heard your prayer and chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:12-14).

God said to Solomon, “As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel. But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.”

This says a lot about what is important to God. Solomon spent millions or billions in today’s economy on the temple. This was not important to the LORD. The LORD said that if his people who were called by his name would:

  1. Humble themselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek God’s face (presence)
  4. Turn from their wicked ways (repent)

Then he would hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.

He said to Solomon, “if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel. But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, thin I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple.”

God did care about the temple, but He cared morre about the condition of the people’s heart and the relationship the people had with Him. If they did the above, God would open his ears and eyes to their prayers. If they did not follow His ways, his ears would be closed. Just like in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

The expectation the LORD had for his people is the same today. The difference is that our salvation through Jesus Christ is through the work on the cross and lasts forever. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and ask for forgiveness (repent) through Jesus Christ, he will forgive of our sins, and we will be saved. Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This salvation is forever. God will not take it away. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Just like thousands of years ago, God does not care about the things of this world. He cares about you, and your heart and your relationship with Him. He wants you to seek His presence.

How is your relationship with the LORD?  Are you seeking His presence?

Next week we will read 2 Chronicles 11-24.

A contrast between Jesus and the Queen

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September 25, 2022

This week we finished 1 Chronicles. There are events in this book of the Bible about David that are not documented in Samuel or Kings.

I am not going to discuss anything from Chronicles this week.

While singing at church today, God laid on my heart to talk about the death and mourning of Queen Elizabeth and compare that with the death and mourning of Christ.

I am sad the queen has passed. She reined for 70 years and met many leaders throughout the world. She was very accomplished.

According to the BBC, the queen was surrounded by family and passed peacefully. As seen on TV and in the papers, thousands, if not millions came out to pay their respects. People stood in line up to 24 hours to visit the casket. People spent the night to obtain a spot on the lawn so they could watch her casket and the family drive by. I think it is wonderful, the respect and reverence the people of the U.K. and around the world gave Queen Elizabeth.

I then compare that to what happened to the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.

Who was Jesus? According to John chapter 1, Jesus was with God in the beginning, he was God in the beginning, and everything was made through Him. He lived in glorious heaven with the Father. He then made himself a man. Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross
!”

Jesus was God in the flesh! Jesus was 33 years old. He had been in ministry for 3 years with his disciples and others. He had a major following. He healed people physically and he healed them spiritually.

At the end of his life, the Pharisees and Sudducees, the leaders of the Jews, wanted Jesus dead. He was perfect, yet Jesus was falsely accused of a crime and ended up dying on a cross taking on the sins of the world. He died for our sin and then rose again, so we could have everlasting life with Him and the Father.

At his death he was mocked, beaten, and hung on a cross to die with 2 other criminals. All the disciples except for John abandoned Him. Peter denied Him 3 times. After his death he was buried in a tomb. There was no procession. There were no mourners. Even when Lazarus died, there were mourners at the house of Mary and Martha. This was not happening at the home of Jesus’ mother Mary.

What a difference between the respect given to Queen Elizabeth and that given to Jesus Christ.

How could he be treated so bad?

I ask myself today, “Am I respecting and revering Christ today? Am loving Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind?” If I’m honest, I have to say that I do not respect and show Christ love all the time. I continue to sin. I don’t always profess my faith. The list goes on and on. Thankfully, because I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, he forgives me, and loves me unconditionally.

I want to do better. How about you? Thus, my prayer for us is that we love and respect the Lord through obedience to Him and love to others and that the Holy Spirit will guide each one of us in this way.

How are you doing in loving and revering the King of Kings?

Next week we will read 2 Chronicles 1-12.

Have a blessed week.

A bold prayer by Jabez

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September 18, 2022

This week we started the book of Chronicles. This book was thought to be written by Ezra. It is a chronicle of the Kings of Judah (from the southern territory). There is a small section that focuses on king Saul, but the majority of the book discussed King David.

The beginning of the book is genealogy from Adam through the kings of Judah. In Chapter 4 there is a pause from this genealogy and a prayer from a man named Jabez. This is going to be the focus of our discussion today.

Here is the scripture from 1 Chronicles 9-10.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[c] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”

The preceding text talks about different genealogy, and then Jabez and his prayer are mentioned. He must have really been important for him to be mentioned so specifically.

The name Jabez means “to grieve,” or “he makes sorrowful.” In this day the Jewish tradition was to name the child after someone or something meaningful at their birth. Obviously, something was very painful, sorrowful, or difficult at the time of Jabez birth because 8 days later when he was circumcised and named, his mother said that “I gave birth to him in pain” so will name him Jabez.

Even with a difficult start, Jabez was more honorable than is brothers.  What a great compliment this is to someone. He was a man of honor and respect. Why was this important? Because he was an overcomer. He lived with being reminded of the sorrow he caused, but this did not bring him down. He overcame that and became a better man than his brothers.

Jabez was a man of prayer. He did not call out to the many secular gods that others were praying. He prayed to the God of Israel. He doesn’t just ask God, but cries out to him. According to the Lexicon, this means “to cry out in a loud voice” or “to cry for help.”

He asks God for 4 things:

  1. God’s blessing: he wanted God’s divine favor on him. This could be spiritually or in some other way.
  2. An enlargement in territory: he wanted an increase in his border or land.
  3. God’s hand to be with him: the word in Hebrew for hand means strength or direction. Jabez wanted God to give him strength and provide direction in his life. He wanted God’s plan for his life.
  4. To keep him from harm so that he would be free from pain: the word in Hebrew for harm means evil, trouble, or calamity. The word for pain is grief or distress. Jabez was praying for protection from evil and to deep him free from whatever would cause him grief or distress. This is interesting because his name means grief. So, he was praying for protection against whatever caused him to be named Jabez in the first place.

Verse 10 then says that God answered the pray.

Jabez came boldly to the throne of God and asked God for his needs. And God not only answered the prayer, but he answered with a yes. God heard Jabez’s prayers, and he hears your prayers too.

Let’s prayer this prayer together for ourselves in terminology from today.

Lord, I pray your blessing over me and my family. I pray that you will increase my territory. Lord, give me your strength and direction in my life. Let me hear from you. Lord, keep me from evil and sorrow.

Please let me know if you have other prayer requests. I would be happy to pray.

Next week we will read 1 Chronicles. 20-29. Have a blessed week.