Questioning God???

“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? [Job 40:7-8]

In chapter 38 of the book of Job; God speaks. For 35 chapters, Job and his three friends have been talking about God, but they all got God wrong. In chapter 2 we are told that Job did not sin with his lips following his suffering that God allowed Satan to inflict on Job,but Job still does not understand God.

Who does?
[You better not say that you do.]

These verses from chapter 40 almost make me nervous; as do God’s words from chapters 38-41. I can almost hear God speaking to me in those times when I am tempted to blame God or question God’s judgement.

But…

who am I to say that God is in the wrong?
who am I to question God’s judgement?
who am I to doubt God’s wisdom?
who am I to call into question God’s sovereignty?

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)

The fact of the matter is that you don’t have understanding; no one does. The mysteries of this world are meant to be mysteries. The ways of God are higher than our ways and we aren’t meant to know them. The thoughts of God are higher than our thoughts and we aren’t meant to know them. We are not meant to see and know the whole picture. If God were to show you the WHOLE picture I think your brain would explode in a gruesome mess (sorry for the image but I think you get my point).

Job’s testing was meant to bring about God’s glory, and it did. Job passed the test. God won the bet with Satan. Why God allowed Job to suffer we can only postulate (and I will be careful here since I don’t want to be questioned like Job was). But Job’s suffering was only for a moment especially considering the grand scheme of God’s design. Job was blessed even more so following this episode and I can only imagine Job’s reward in heaven.

When God doesn’t make sense;
when God frustrates you;
when God seems to be utterly random…

…run to Him. Run into his loving arms and trust Him. Trust that God knows what He is doing and that God’s higher ways will bring about His glory and eventual yours.

God doesn’t make sense now, but that’s OK, because through Jesus Christ you can have the faith that everything will make sense later on. And who knows, in heaven someday we might even be able to laugh about our suffering when we consider how untrusting and unfaithful we were then.

Who knows?
God does, and that’s good enough for me :-)

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—

God is Always There

When all else fails,
God is there.

When memories fade,
God is there.

When loved ones can’t remember,
God is there.

When you seem lost in your own mind,
God is there.

When you can’t remember,
God remembers.

When you can’t function like you used to,
God continues to function.

I recently brought communion to someone who used to know me, but now they don’t. It was sad that she couldn’t be part of the conversation. But what encouraged my heart was when I started praying the Lord’s Prayer, this person who once knew me started praying along. And then when I approached her to serve communion she asked, “What is this?” I responded by saying, “This is the body of Christ, given FOR YOU.” To which she responded with a smile, “Ohhh”. She received the body and blood of Jesus as she always had before. And then thanked me.

Praise be to God!

I hate Alzheimer’s and dementia and what it does to people, but I take great comfort in the fact that God is always there. And when people seem to forget everything else they seem to know, deep down inside, that truth as well.  And in that I also take great comfort.

Holy God, thank you for not deserting us in our time of need. Thank you for remembering Your promises when some people struggle with remembering. Thank you for Your holy presence. Thank you for the hope we have in Jesus. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Just do it and bring glory to God

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [1 Corinthians 10:31]

The context of this verse is Paul urging the Corinthians to honor God in what they eat/drink or don’t eat/drink, for everything belongs to the Lord. For example, in verse 27 Paul says that if an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you feel compelled to go; eat what is placed before you and don’t make a scene on the basis of conscience (for example, if you know the food was offered to a pagan god, eat it, it won’t kill you). Why turn the unbeliever off from the faith based on things they don’t understand now. Don’t use your freedom in such a way that it causes a “little one” to stumble.

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And isn’t that the purpose of our lives right there; to glorify God?

My wife shares the story of when she was doing a home visit, in her previous job, with an Hispanic family. When she arrived they offered her something to drink but all they had was orange juice (my wife hates orange juice). But to turn down a gesture of hospitality would have been offensive, especially considering the language barrier. So my wife bravely drank the orange juice, with a smile on her face the whole time. For her, it wasn’t worth risking offending this family and possibly ending any chance she had to share her faith with them in some way. The juice didn’t kill her and it definitely didn’t offend God.

Sure, there are things we need to stand up for and not do based on conscience and belief. I am not going to attend a drunken orgy on the off chance I could possibly pray with the people there. And I think you get the point. We are to bring glory to God and not use our freedom to cause others to stumble in the faith or to stumble before they even come into the faith.

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So basically we need to be mindful of how we act or don’t act, especially when it is known that we are Christian:
~ How do your actions or in-actions bring glory to God?
~ How are people seeing your faith being lived out?
~ Do your actions or in-actions cause others to stumble in their faith?
~ Are you giving God a bad name in how you live?

In whatever you do (or don’t do), are you bring glory to God?

Meditate on this today and contemplate what changes (if any) you need to make to your public (and private) display of faith. We are here to glorify God, through Jesus Christ, so just do it.

Praise be to God and Amen!

The Pastor -|—

The Pastor and His Little Girl

The heart of this pastor longs to worship and lead worship. Nothing tops praising and thanking God for the hope of the resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ. But dare I say that worshiping with my family, especially my little girl (22 months old), comes in right up there? I say that because this pastor’s heart was touched by his little girl on two occasions this morning during worship.

The first occasion of heart touching (outside of worshiping God of course) came towards the beginning of half of worship. I had just finished presiding over a baptism where I was carrying the cute little baby up and down the aisle to show her off and introduce her to the congregation. I then handed the baby off to her mother and sat down. Just then, from a couple rows back, I heard my little girl crying,

“I want my daddy! I want my daddy!”

The next thing I notice is my little girl coming up to me in my row in tears (my wife broke down and let her come to me). I picked her up and set her on my lap as we listened to scripture being read. I wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed her gently on the cheek; whispering,

“I love you, sweetie”

My little girl just sat there with me very quietly; simply wanting to be near me (my guess is that she was jealous of me carrying the newly baptized baby up and down the aisle). During the final reading I brought her back to her mother and she was fine.

The second occasion of heart touching came during the final song. My routine is to walk up to the front during the final verse (during which time my little girl runs up to join me), I pray silently and then walk out to the narthex; preparing to greet people as they leave. But this time, my little girl was in my row during the first verse so we went up front. I held her tight and said,

“Let’s pray”

She then folded her hands on mine and we prayed. When I finished she said,

“Amen”

So cute
So heart-warming
So wonderful

Worshiping God is great and wonderful and nothing tops that, but I am so glad I get to worship with my family (especially my little girl). And now I look forward to my son (3 1/2 months) to soon start doing the same things as his sister.

The heart of this pastor is definitely bursting, in so many ways.
Thank you, dear God. Thank you.

Praise be to God!!!

The Pastor -|—

Prayer in Preparation for the Word ~ Open our Eyes

The following is the prayer that I wrote to be prayed before the sermon on Mark 8:22-30 (Jesus healing the blind man). It’s a prayer of faith; asking God to open our eyes to see Him. So may God open your eyes as you worship today and hear God’s holy Word proclaimed.

Let’s pray…

Oh God, You are holy and awesome and sovereign and worthy and wise. You are love. You are peace. You are hope.

Oh God, open our eyes so we may see; for you are the only one who can. You are the only one who can show us the truth. You are the only one who can show us the way. You are the only one we can ultimately trust with our lives.

Oh God, open our eyes.
Open our eyes to see your glory.
Open our eyes to see your beauty.
Open our eyes to see your love through the cross.
Open our eyes to see the truth that we may echo Peter’s confession and declare that Jesus Christ is indeed Your son.

And may we stand firm in our confession; not allowing Satan to get in between us and You. May we not find ourselves in the position to be rebuked as Peter was, but if we do, may we fall at Your feet in humble confession.

And so grant me wisdom, that only you can grant, as I unpack Your holy Word. May I be faithful, Oh God. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O God, our rock and redeemer. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Preparing for worship ~ Sight

This is the opening prayer I wrote for worship this morning and I share it with you as you prepare for worship.

So…

Let’s come before God with thanksgiving and praise; holding nothing back. Let’s come before God in all humility. May God’s name be lifted up and honored. See and believe. Hear and receive. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Let’s pray together…

Sovereign God, giver of life, giver of peace, giver of sight; accept our praise here this morning, even though it is still not sufficient; for You are worthy of so much more than what we give.

Oh God, we are so filled with sin that we can not see Your beauty. And because of our dimness of sight, we get distracted by the powers of this world and seek after other gods, blindly following them. When Satan presents to us the kingdoms of the world, we don’t turn him down as your son did in the wilderness. Rather, we joyful accept the offer thinking we will be happy and fulfilled, but it doesn’t take long to realize that that too is not sufficient.

But only You, oh God, through Jesus Christ, can fill our hearts to overflowing and bring us a peace that surpasses all understanding. So may you grant us the sight to see Your son as our Savior, and not the gods of this world. May we see in Jesus the gateway to eternal life and may we have the faith to turn Satan’s offer down. And not only the faith, but the strength to stare down Satan and send him away.

Father God, restore in your children, here, the joy of falling in your arms and resting in your love. Grant us humble hearts to hear and accept that we are sinners, and grant us the determination to turn away from sin in order to glorify you to the max and to see Your beauty.

Holy God, we worship your holy name and lift our praises to you. Hear us, receive us, restore our sight. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Evening prayer ~ The Good Shepherd

Oh God, my Good Shepherd, as I wind my body down and reflect on my day, I can’t help but echo the sentiment of the beloved psalmist:

Oh Lord my Lord, you are my Shepherd and therefore I do not want; for You make me lie down in green pastures and You lead me beside still waters.

You restore my soul.

You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (and this I do every day), I fear no evil, for you are with me (what a wonderful feeling that is). Your rod and your staff? They comfort me for I know that my life is in Your hands.

Oh Lord my Shepherd, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies and you anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows and overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy and love and compassion and grace shall follow me all the days of my life, and because of Jesus, I shall dwell in Your mansion forever.

Thank You, Shepherd God, that through faith in Jesus I can confidently pray this prayer.

So if it be Your will, bring my life through this night and protect me from the evil one, and awaken me to a new day filled with Your abundant blessings. 

All praise to You, oh God, the great Shepherd of the sheep. In Jesus name I pray,

Amen!

The Pastor -|—