Tuesday, May 31: Job 16- A time for everything.

The writer of Ecclesiastes penned a moving poem in chapter 3: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace (1-8).

Listening to Job this morning I think he might add another example, a time to comfort and a time to counsel. Job’s opening words drown with hurt. I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief (2-5).

Counsel and comfort are two distinct activities. Job longs for the latter while he receives the former…

One of the qualities of many men is that we are fixers.  We offer solutions to everything. Well, maybe not every male, but this is certainly true of me. When I listen to folks, family members, church members, friends, inside my head I am thinking, “Ok, you could try this, or how about that…” I drop into ‘fix-it mode’ without even trying. And sometimes my fix-it mode is correcting crooked thinking… explaining where people are wrong and straightening them out. You get the idea. Well most of this fits in the category of counsel.

There is a time and place for counsel and the key is knowing the right time and place.

God chastises me and reminds me of the value of listening, listening to the person with whom I am speaking and listening to the Lord, because there is a time to counsel and a time to comfort.

I am less adept at comfort… empathizing with others and entering into their situation so that my presence can help them continue. Job longs for comfort.  I wonder how many of my friends and family receive my counsel when they long for my comfort? O, God, I have so much growing to do…

O, Lord, help me learn the difference between comfort and counsel and to discern the right time for each. There is a time for everything and season for every activity under heaven… Amen.


Monday, May 30: Job 15- The gift of truth.

As I read Eliphaz’s response, my heart was dismayed as the conversation between Job and his ‘friends’ sunk deeper and deeper into mudslinging.

I spent some time mulling over the confused theology that Eliphaz and others in the book of Job espouse.  We have read this numerous times already. I found myself wondering what it must have been like living before God’s Word was given (and accessible). People’s understanding of God was completely based on personal experience, personal musings and thoughts –sometimes correct yet often misguided at various points- passed down from one generation to the next.

Knowing how prone I am to see life through ‘my lenses’ and how often that is flat out wrong or a misread of what’s happening, makes this line of thinking frightening. When everything is subjective like this, anything goes. Let me put it this way.  I have been in a few fender-benders in my day and my version and the other driver’s version of the accident don’t always match. Personal perspective and lenses color how we perceive the world.

Now this is one thing when it comes to me interpreting my life or even individuals interpreting the world in which they (and we) live. However, it is an entirely different matter when it comes to proclaiming the ways of God…

And so my musings circled back to God.  I found myself ever so grateful that God, in His wisdom and love, has given the world His written Word. Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and the others could argue about God as they understood God.  However, we have an objective truth to point to and  upon which to base our understanding. Without God’s Word, as foundation and truth for my life and my understanding of God, I am left to my ‘best guesses’ and that’s a pretty flimsy foundation as I see it.

I understand that believing that the Bible is the VERY Word of Almighty God and therefore provides truth about God and God’s ways is a faith statement, one which I gladly make. I find my truth in the God of the Bible and the written word God has provided.

Where do you find truth life upon which to build your life?

O, God, my heart fills with tremendous gratitude that You in Your wisdom have provided the world with Your truth, the Holy Bible. Thank You. Lord.  I need Your help to build my life squarely upon Your Word. Help me understand it correctly. Please Holy Spirit, teach me. I need the grace and strength to live according to what You say within it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, May 28: Job 14- The spiral of despair deepens

It seems that the more Job speaks, the deeper and darker his thoughts become. These are sad words of a sad and despairing man. Life can be like that. What can I say?

My heart fills with thoughts of friends and acquaintances who have walked “the valley of the shadow of death.” Those are hard days and oh the questions? Why do bad things happen?

This book does not necessarily answer those lingering questions but it does offer an entirely new element into the equation.

We, naturally, view life from our perspective, the three dimensional world in which we live. And yet the opening chapters of this book remind us that there is a cosmic realm unseen by human eyes where things are happening. In Job’s case he is smack dab in the middle of the conflict between God and Satan…

I cannot say that I understand all this.  I still have questions and wonderings. But what Job’s story does teach me is that God is in control, that God knows what He is doing and there are things happening above my ‘pay grade’ that I am not privy to know. I may never know the reasons why certain things happen but God knows...

Lord, I rest in You… and I worship You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.



Friday, May 27: Job 13- Love, encourage, support.

As I read, my heart breaks. Job is in deep physical and emotional pain, his friends came to his side in a time of trouble and now it seems that their time together has fallen into the pit of “I’m better than you.” The friends justify themselves and condemn Job and he does the same in return.

Would it turn out well if he [God] examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? (9).

My thoughts shifted to the New Testament and all the ‘one another’ verses especially in the letters, ‘love one another, greet one another, encourage one another…’ God’s Word over and over commends us to come alongside one another and build up, help, encourage and support. And yet as I read these chapters, Job and friends are needling, condemning, tearing down and making fun of one another. How sad.

I think about my ‘come alongside’ times. Do I express love and encouragement or do I make things worse? I hope the former but wonder if at times I don’t slip into the latter?

O God, help me to be a love and encourage one another kind of guy. May my words build up and always point people to You, Jesus. This is pray. Amen.



Thursday, May 26: Job 12- God is sovereign


Verse 10: In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Verses 13-14 "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released. And so Job continues extolling the supreme, absolute, sovereignty of God.

It is healthy for me to read and ponder God’s absoluteness. All too often life can be reduced to that which I experience. I can and do easily slip into a mentality where the world revolves around me. I become consumed by my problems, my issues, my rights, my understanding, explanations and wisdom, my aches and my pains. My, my, my; me, me, me… As great and important the sun might be for earth and our solar system, the sun is neither the center of the universe nor the source from which it was birthed.

As a human being, created in the image of God, I am important, I am endowed with dignity and sit above the animals in the pecking order of life.  However, never will I or any human being, be the center of existence or the source from which life has come. That place belongs only to the Lord God Almighty.

It is good for me to be reminded of that regularly. My role is to submit and follow wherever God leads and to do whatever God asks of me to do. My life call is to live as faithfully as possible, honoring God with each and every breath, remembering that even the faith I have is a gift from Him. My highest duty, as the confession says, is to love God and enjoy Him forever. And as scripture says, my duty is to give my life to the making of disciples who in turn will love God and enjoy Him forever.

Lord God, Father in Heaven, Savior Jesus, Holy Spirit, today I renew myself to Your call; to live for You, to abide in You and to serve You alone who is Lord of all. Amen.


Wednesday, May 25: Job 11- A jumble like me

Thinking about Zophar’s counsel, I realized right away he got some things right and some wrong. Zophar understands the unfathomableness of God, the vastness of the Lord (7-10). Yes, God is so far beyond us that were we to stand in His presence we would not compare. Like an ant before the Supreme Court, so is a man before God.  There are no words to describe the ludicrous nature of that image.

Yet Zophar still makes the giant leap that Job’s dire circumstances result from some hidden grievous sin which Job refuses to acknowledge and continues to hide (11-20).

Reading Zophar it occurred to me that I, too, am a mixed bag of understanding about God and life. There are many places where I have learned from Scripture and get things right. Unfortunately, I still have blind spots where my reasoning is not yet godly and my self-justifying heart understands incorrectly. I continue to need brothers and sisters and the Holy Spirit teaching me…

I am so thankful that I do not need to be perfect in order to be accepted, forgiven and loved by God. Wow, I cannot put into words how that makes me feel. I find myself with my eyes filling with tears of peace and acceptance, basking in God’s love.  Me, imperfect me, basking in God’s love.

O, Thank You, Lord, for this morning revelation. My heart wounded from events of yesterday is being healed as I sit and bask in Your unconditional love. I didn’t even realize how much I needed this. Thank You for providing for me… for loving me and for knowing how much I needed this in my spirit. You are amazing, O God, and I love You.

Lord, I just sit here, no words typing on the screen… soaking in Your amazing love. Imperfect me, being loved by the perfect God. Life is good, I doubt it can be better!

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost… Amen.


Tuesday, May 24: Job 10- Depths of despair and depression.

Job grows harder and harder to read. To see a person in anguish and pain, such as Job, is the hard part. Watching another human being squirm . Questions abound like, “Is it fair?”

Job naturally believes not. His friends argue. It must be that Job has some grievous hidden sin that God is judging.

My heart turns to people I know… a mom my age suffering from cancer; a college friend widowed with 2 young kids before he was 30; the moms and dads I know who buried children. I drift to people I do not know caught in natural disasters (Haiti, Japan…); innocents of human warfare (Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq…); children with or parentless from AIDS; children caught and sold in sex trafficking or starving people in parts of the world. There is so much suffering…

I have so many questions and Job’s story is bringing them to the surface.

A violent shift happens in my thoughts. In an instant I shift from the above to realizing that I am more like Job’s friends than I care to admit. Instead of trying to do what I can do to alleviate the pain of someone in need, I jaw about it and/or ponder questions bigger than I can handle. Now I wonder, “Are these merely activities that keep me from empathizing with those in pain, that keep me from ‘entering’ their pain, so as to bring a measure of help and healing?”

Ouch!  It could be… and that stings. What would Jesus have me do???

I suspect it would be to enter the pain to bring healing, hope, help, companionship, something good and God-honoring… that’s what I think Jesus would have me do and I am so far short of that.

O Jesus, Father, Spirit, turn me from a bystander into a player, one who enters the fray of life ready to do what I can do in Your Name. To bring a cup of water to the thirsty, your grace and love to the least of these who are brothers of Yours… Amen.


PS, I am prompted to write that questions are not bad. What is not good, however, is when I (we) use questions to keep us from actions that honor and serve the Lord. In these cases they cease to be questions and become excuses. Think about it!


Monday, May 23: Job 9- Mighty and all powerful God.

As Job begins his response, I was captivated by his description of God… mighty, powerful, utterly beyond us humans. I found myself swirling in thoughts of creation recognizing that all is because God spoke it into being. So beyond me is God. I truly cannot comprehend.

I invite you to sit for a moment and think on the vastness of God.

I love to look at some of the many pictures NASA has sent back from space exploration… the vastness, the expanse, the interconnectedness and the beauty of space.  This charges my thinking about God, who created everything.

I know others who would rather contemplate the intricacies of the human anatomy with organs and tissue, blood flowing; the wonder of eyesight and the amazing way the brain works and on and on. How all of this speaks to our creator God and His wonder.  Now multiply God’s creativity by every specie and genre of animal.

Still others love nature and others the vast array of color and artwork.  Each of these speak to the wonder of the Creator God.  Spend some time in ways meaningful for you and ponder the GREATNESS of God.

Job then recognizes that next to God he will never measure up. Verse 20: Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.

I will never measure up. As blameless as I could be, I will never be perfectly blameless. If I have to stand on my merits, I am lost. I will be more blameless than some, but less than others. And I will never be perfectly blameless before God. Never.

I don’t think Job made this next realization yet, but I did and regularly do. I NEED a Savior. I need someone to come and do for me what I cannot do for myself. I need Jesus to pay for my sins and shortcomings and to give me His righteousness and perfect blamelessness. Only then can I stand before God! Only then…

And what goes for me, goes for you, too…

Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and give you His righteousness? It is the only way to get back into relationship with our perfect beyond-anything-we-can-imagine God…

Think about it…

O, God, thank You for Jesus! For the gift of new life we can find through faith in Him. Give everyone who reads this devotional faith, true faith, to reach out and confess Jesus. This is my prayer. Amen.



Saturday, May 21: Job 8- So many assumptions.

I don’t mean to psychologize but the first thought I had, as I began to read, was Job’s friends blew it when they opened their mouths. They have a friend in intense real and emotional pain and they try to help him and to correct his pain-wracked thinking by argument? I think not.  They should have returned to commiserating with him, validating him and sitting in silence. Of course if they did that, there wouldn’t be many words in this book. J

Ok, now to the reading itself…

Bildad and the others are working from a bad starting place. Their basic understanding of the world is if you are prosperous, then you must be good and God puts His favor on you. If you do something bad, God will punish you. So they assume that Job’s children did something bad and God judged them when He killed them (4). The implication of all of this is that Job was or must have done something bad so God judged him, too.

Back to psychologizing… times of deep pain are not generally great times to confront someone even if the confrontation is true and honest.

As I mull over this bad situation… one friend accusing another based on assumption… God reminds me how dangerous assumptions can be. In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) the older brother makes huge assumptions on what he thinks his younger brother did while squandering his wealth…

Assumptions get us into all kinds of trouble.  No wonder one of the wise proverbs of Solomon goes like this: The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him (Proverbs 18:17).

God’s message to me is simple: don’t jump to conclusions through assuming… get things straight lest you judge someone incorrectly…

O, God, too often I am guilty of this… I judge others based on faulty assumptions or faulty thinking. Forgive me… I need it big-time in this arena! In Jesus’ name. Amen


P.S. a poor Bible joke. Who is the smallest man in the Bible? Bildad the ‘Shoe-height!’


Friday, May 20: Job 7- Deep questions from an anguishing heart.

Job is wracked in the valley of despair and depression.  He wonders why he lives. He longs for the grave.  He thinks the pain, despair and anguish of his earthly life will be over. He wrestles day and sleepless night with deep questions… Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more" (19-21).

Physical pain, emotional distress, and grief can put us in such places. And when our thinking is mixed up, we are most susceptible to spiraling despair like this. If we believe God is out to get us, we are prone to these kinds of thoughts. If we believe we have no worth, we are prey for these kinds of thoughts. Yet, even the strongest most faith-filled people can battle dark questions of worth and value and depression. Spurgeon, Luther, Mother Teresa come to mind…

The valley of the shadow of death (or pain, or mourning or…) can be a long, lonely walk. To one extent or another, we will all walk that path. Job’s story reminds me it is part of human life. Not a nice part but part nonetheless. Job’s story reminds me that the valley is not necessarily the whole story (but I don’t want to jump to the end, Job has a long journey before daybreak dawns). Job’s story reminds me that God is not troubled by our deep questions or even the finger-pointing cries of one in pain.

The entry point God watches for is ‘honesty’. I have seen over and over again that God meets us in our honesty and He can lead us home from there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; (Psalm 23:4). It is God’s presence that leads us home…

God, thank You for caring and loving. Thank You for your presence. Help me stop my hiding from You and pretending before You. Be patient with me because I am scared to be totally honest with You because it means I have to be honest with myself. The latter scares me as much if not more than the former. Thank You, Lord, for never ever abandoning me… and for giving me time to grow in my love and trust of You. I love You, Lord. Amen.



Thursday, May 19: Job 6- In our moments of pain.


Job sounds a call common to all humans.  In a time of pain, particularly deep pain, we need others alongside. We are not meant to live life in isolation.  We are wired for companionship. Out of his pain and despair, Job speaks back at his friends…

"What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me? "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty (11-14).

Job’s words are a cry for presence and devotion… someone to be alongside, not so much to ‘straighten him out and correct his thinking’ (oh, that may come in time). No, Job needs someone who, no matter what, is there with him. The word devotion is the Hebrew word ‘hesed,’ a word rich in meaning with something like ‘loyalty freely given’ at its root. Translations use words like kindness, mercy, loyalty, loving-kindness and steadfast love to convey its meaning in various contexts. It is a powerful word of connection and relationship.

That’s what Job cries out for in his hour of need.

God takes me from text to life with thoughts of friends who are in turbulent times… financial crisis, an unexpected layoff coupled with deeply uncertain future, life-threatening illness. How can I show my devotion to them? What can I do to be there for them? These are the thoughts springing from my time with Job today. What about you?

God, teach me ‘hesed.’ Let me experience it from You that I might give it back to You and to those key people in my life… Amen.


Wednesday, May 18: Job 5- Who do you reach out to?...

In times of misery and heartache, pain and sickness, loss and failure, to whom do you reach out for help and solace? Who? Who offers you an arm to lean on or a hand to get up when you stumble and fall? Who?

Job’s friend Eliphaz reminds Job that the Lord is there… reach out to God. "But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety… (8-11).

Sometimes we think that God doesn’t care about individuals, or God wouldn’t care about me –I’m not good enough. Whatever the reasoning, we are blocked from reaching out to God for help in times of trouble. But nothing could be further from the truth. Psalm 46:1 reads: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Ever so faintly I hear the Spirit’s whisper in this scripture reminding me, “I am there, I am always there. Reach out for Me. Call out to Me. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

This promise from God doesn’t mean that all my problems will go away, but God’s presence will make a difference. Yes, it will.  I know I have experienced that more times than I can count.

The psalmist continues, Come and see the works of the LORD, …"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Ps 46:8a & 10)

Go ahead, reach out to the Lord today…

God, thank You for being there for me and others… for being a call away, a guide, a strength, a counselor and consoler, a companion as well as Lord and God and so much more. Thank You for never leaving or forsaking me (us). I do reach out to You today. Be Lord of my day. Lead and direct me until I lay my head down to sleep tonight. Lord, help me with my troubles…

God, I cannot do life without You. I need You. Help me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Tuesday, May 17: Job 4- A paradox of the Christian faith.

Finally one of Job’s friends speaks. For most of the remainder of the book we will eavesdrop on conversations between Job and his friends.  What we believe about God and life and fate and chance cannot help but leak out when we discuss those deep aspects of life.

Eliphaz, likely the oldest of Job’s friends, offers a telling comment in verse 6. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? Think about that for a moment. On the one hand it sounds okay, even right, but there is a subtle flaw in that line.

As ‘good people’ we often slip into this sinkhole… Yes our piety (our religious living) and our blameless ways (our godly way of life) should point to a life that is different, a life that has been touched and redeemed by God through Jesus Christ alone. Our lives should bear the fruit of repentance and faith, absolutely. BUT our confidence should never be in ourselves or our piety or our blameless ways or anything else we do… our confidence always rests in Jesus Christ our Lord. In what he did for us on the cross, where He took our sin and gave to us His righteousness.

You see, no matter how good I am or you are, we can never be good enough because we cannot be perfect. Only when Jesus Christ gives us His perfect righteousness during that faith exchange when we believe in Him can we have confidence before God Almighty.

I hope and pray and live so that my life will point to God, will honor God and will please God, but my confidence in is God, not my life and that is a paradox of the Christian faith.

Think about that this today… what is your confidence in? Only faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is safe and secure and guaranteed!

Wow, God, I didn’t expect this lesson today. What a joy!  What a life-reordering truth You have fed me today! I love You, Father. I love You, Jesus. I love You, Holy Spirit. And I bless and thank You for saving me, for redeeming me and for guaranteeing my inheritance in You.

To God be the glory great things he has done,

So loved he the world that he gave us his son.

And purer and higher and greater will be,

My wonder my transport when Jesus I see.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord let the earth hear my voice

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord let the people rejoice.

O come to the father through Jesus the son

And give him the glory great things he has done. AMEN!


Monday, May 16: Job 3- Suffering.

Job’s story is extreme and his pain immense. The physical pain from the sores on his body from head to toe must be excruciating….open wounds, exposed nerves.  I get queasy thinking that scraping open the sores is the only physical relief he finds. Then, mound on top of his physical pain, the emotional pain of burying all your children. I have stood beside many gravesides; the travail of parents burying their children seems particularly dark. Job experienced that ten-fold. Now layer on the loss of homes and farms and finances and livelihood and respect… and we begin to understand Job’s plight.

For the first time we see past his steeled exterior to the anguish below.

Like the blast of a volcano, Job’s heart explodes, cursing the day of his birth, wishing he had never been born.

Two thoughts percolate. First, I have an inkling that it was the gift of presence and support of his three friends who sat silently with him for seven days that eventually gave Job the strength to be honest and open with himself and his friends about his agony. Second, his spoken anguish is a first step toward the future.

I have met many people in general, and Christians in particular, who have some strange notion that a plastic smile coupled with an “I’m fine” response is how God expects us to handle the pain and injustice and junk of life. If Job shows us anything, it is that honesty with self, friends and God is the open door for God to work within a person’s life. Because I have read Job thirty or so times, I know that this is the first of many monologues by Job and his friends. And though the journey will be long, over time God breaks in.  And it is the in-breaking of God that all of us, who live and deal with pain, need.

God, help me to be honest with myself… so that I can be honest with You and allow You into the deepest places and pain-filled places of my life… Amen.


Saturday, May 14: Job 2- Such faith.

I sit here this morning and honestly I don’t know if I could take what Job took… children and possessions dead and gone. Facing incredible personal pain with a body wracked with open wounds from head to toe and the one lone piece of his former wonderful life, his wife, ridiculing him and his faith. Could it get any worse? I am hard pressed to imagine worse.

Despite all this, Job maintains his integrity and will not curse You with his lips, God. That’s faith. That’s understanding that God calls the shots.

I can be so temporal; things going well, ‘thank you, God!’ Life situations turn sour, ‘Why me, God?’ Job’s response amazes me, "... Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (10).

Everything comes through the hand of God, everything. And rightfully so, God is Creator and we are not.

Oh, God, it is so easy for me to get life upside down, to live as if I am on the top of the heap and You must serve me. How wrong is that? Lord, forgive me for all those times I do things like this… forgive me.

Lord, as I read of Job today, I am overwhelmed by his faith in You, faith that recognizes that You call the shots –all of them. Faith that accepts what You send. Faith which understands his place in the order of things. It is no wonder Job is listed in Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith!

Jesus, Spirit, Father, develop in me faith like Job… to be unconditionally, no-matter-what-comes-my-way Yours. To You, O God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.



Friday, May 13: Job 1- What?

If you haven’t read Job before, then your head may be swimming with questions. Feel free to shoot me an email and I will do my best to answer your questions.

My personal devotional thoughts this morning lingered on the scene in heaven and not the calamities that God allowed to fall upon Job. I was struck by the idea that Satan stood before God in heaven (6-12) and that Satan spoke with God!

This just twisted my head this morning, “How could any created being stand in the presence of Almighty God,  Creator of heaven and earth and not submit to God’s Lordship and not surrender to God’s divine majesty?”

I wrestled and wrestled with this… no answer emerging.

Sometimes faith is wrestling with Scripture and finally saying… “Ok, I simply believe…”

Lord God, honestly I don’t quite understand how Satan can stand in Your presence and not acknowledge You as Lord God Almighty. My prayer, Lord, DO Not allow me to make the same mistake… Amen.


P.S. I felt I would be remiss if it didn’t acknowledge Job’s incredible faith in God. With all that happened on that ‘cursed of days’, losing everything, literally everything, all his children and wealth, Job still praises God: 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 be praised (21).

Lord, may I display such faith in my life, and may it never be tested like Job’s was…


Thursday, May 12: Hebrews 13- Work in me.

Chapter 13 concludes the letter with a series of exhortations. It almost seems like the Book of Proverbs, each sentence is separate from the ones surrounding it. And any sentence could be food for today.

My heart landed on verses 20 & 21: May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And within this run-on sentence, it was the closing thought that began my meditative wheels churning.

May the God of peace …work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I wondered if I was brave enough to pray that as my prayer. It is not a typical prayer. It is a prayer of complete surrender. “God work in me as You see fit. Do anything You like in my life.” It is not asking for daily bread or needs to be met. It is 100% God focused. God, I am clay in Your hands. Fashion me as You see fit. It is the kind of prayer that may undermine my comfortable life. It is the kind of prayer that may result in God asking me to give everything away to follow Him. It is the kind of prayer I need to pray and it is a touch frightening because I can think of many things, big and small, which God may ask me to sacrifice for His pleasure and will. But it is the kind of prayer that will bring glory to my Lord Jesus…

O Lord, hear my prayer…

O God, I ask you to work in me –refine me, change me, rebuke me, convict me- that my life would be pleasing to Jesus,  so that the way I live will make an impact for Jesus and so that people will see in me someone who is surrendered to You. Lord, remove any play-acting and hypocrisy in me, renew my mind and transform me as You do so… I pray this in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen.


Wednesday, May 11: Hebrews 12- Make every effort.

As usual there is more in this chapter than I can handle in one devotion time. The words about discipline and the call to persevere is strong and worthy of much contemplation. Yet, it was a single verse mid-chapter that stuck like a dart in my soul as I read and pondered God’s word.

Verse14: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

The two-part charge seems simple enough but the longer I thought the more stinging they became. Make every effort to live in peace with all men… easier said than done. Some people know my buttons, others push buttons they don’t know I have. Either way, feathers get ruffled and worse. Yet God says to me… “Bill, make every effort to live in peace with them.” (I am reminded of Romans 12:18 with its similar message; you can check that verse out if you like…). Like I said, easier said than done, yet that is no excuse not to work at it, which is exactly God’s charge. I am to make every effort to live at peace with all others. Every effort…

Then there is the second charge: Make every effort to … be holy. Not much leeway there… that is a challenge I will work on for my entire life. The question that comes to my heart is this, “Am I actually working on being holy?” Forgive me, Lord, I fall short regularly and not simply in outcome but in effort as well.

With this charge, God’s Word adds a reason: Make every effort to … be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Does that say what I think it says… that it is through my holiness that people see the Lord? That humbles me because I don’t think I am very holy and therefore, I am not shining a very good light for Jesus. OUCH, this is a tough one!

Father, it is all too painful for me to realize how short I fall of Your best and how lax I am in living faithfully for You. Help me grow.   Discipline me as You see fit so that my life might make a difference for You in the world. Teach me holiness, so that others will see You in my life and thus You will receive honor and glory… In Jesus’ name I plead. Amen.


Monday, May 9: Hebrews 10- A beautiful mystery.


 “Christians are becoming what by God’s grace they already are.” This is one of my favorite quotes from a favorite seminary professor. Those words have stuck with me thirty-some years. Ponder that thought.   It is rich and meant to be savored rather than devoured. “Christians are becoming what by God’s grace they already are.”

This is one of the truths expressed by the author of Hebrews in verse 14: because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Jesus’ perfect once-forever sacrifice on the cross has made perfect (a completed action) those who are in the process of being made holy. This is an incredibly rich thought that needs to be savored and pondered.

I hope you will join me in pondering and savoring this beautiful mystery of the Christian faith…

Lord God, so deep, so wonderful is this Word from You. We have been made perfect by Jesus’ perfect saving sacrifice and yet at the same time, we are growing into that holiness.

Thank You, Lord God, for such a plan… one that can perfect one as imperfect as I am. Thank You, Jesus, for doing for me what I could never have done for myself. Amen and Amen.


A Comment on Verse 14

[Jesus’] sacrifice was so efficacious that it guaranteed the final perfection of all those who were being made holy. This involved not only the regeneration of the spirit and the salvation of the soul, but also, the resurrection of the body of each true believer. The little-understood term sanctified of the KJV has been properly replaced in the NIV by the words being made holy. It is both an accomplished fact (Hebrews 10:10) and a continuing process (Hebrews 10:14), a phenomenon found frequently in Scripture. We may not understand such a mystery, but we can revel in its reality, as the writer intends us to do. All progress in the spiritual life comes from personally apprehending a fact that is already true. To put it simply, we must see what we already are by God's grace, in order to manifest that fact by godly behavior.   (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Hebrews)


Tuesday, May 10: Hebrews 11- Faith exemplified.

I took a slow read through this chapter, not being in a hurry, and allowed thoughts of faith to seep deeply into my being.

Faith is a ‘verb’. That’s one of the insights I gained on my reading journey today. Grammatically, faith is a noun but it results in doing something.  Faith results in action. Faith gives the strength, power, propulsion, energy, nerve, stamina, fortitude, and courage to do things that please God. Faith is not static,it is active. That’s what I mean by faith being a verb!

By faith, men and women did this, that and another thing. Reading this litany of faith, I was deeply impacted by the nameless multitude at the end of the chapter who withstood horrific fates, choosing to believe and follow the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ rather than capitulate. I thought how soft I am and how strong they were.

I also contemplated creation.   Yes, it is faith that allows me to believe that in the beginning God created everything from nothing… Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. … By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (1, 3).

In our 21st century world science is divided between those who see God’s hand in creation (or at least a ‘first cause’) and others who don’t, with the latter having the primary voice these days. Voices can argue and debate back and forth on creation…

Faith allows me to see God’s creative hand at work designing and creating all things. Faith also allows me to see God’s plan of restoring and redeeming through Jesus Christ, all creation which was marred and corrupted when Adam and Eve sinned way back when in the garden…

Faith is a powerful and beautiful thing…

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank You for being the first cause in my life, for giving me faith to believe You and to believe Your Word. I pray that my life witnesses to faith in You just like the lives of the named and unnamed people do in Chapter 11.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, May 7: Hebrews 9-

Hebrews 9 is one of those chapters with many stopping points. Like a scenic highway, there were any number of places to “pull over and take in the view.”

Despite the plethora of meditative moments, I was struck by verse 7: But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. And within this sentence it was the last clause (which I bolded above) that caused me to pause.

The sacrifice of the high priest was only for sins committed in ignorance. That is a frightening thought. What about all the sins committed willfully: lying words, cheating actions, thievery, not keeping the Sabbath, dishonoring parents? I could run through each of the Ten Commandments and then there were all the other Levitical laws.

Yikes! Only sins of ignorance forgiven.  That’s a frightening proposition as I think about it. It would cover much of my problem but certainly not all of it!

When the writer said in the last chapter that the New Covenant was far superior to the Old, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Thanks be to God I am a child of the New Covenant!

Lord God Almighty, thank Your for the New Covenant, a new and better way. Jesus, thank You for entering into the heavenly tabernacle by Your own blood, once and for all doing away with the need for repeated sacrifice by Your own blood!

Praise be to You, Lord Jesus Christ… My Lord! Amen.


Friday, May 6: Hebrews 8- Left hanging


Ugh!  Today was one of those readings that ended too soon. It points to a new covenant that  explains the new covenant is far superior to the old one (6). It tells us that the old covenant is obsolete and will disappear (13), but it never explains the new covenant. It feels a bit frustrating…

Now I know that Bible chapters are arbitrary.  Someone added the chapters and verses long after the books were written to help people study, note and find things in the Bible, so I could read on and I did actually peek into chapter 9. But then I decided to sit in chapter 8, what might God speak to me about today?

I seemed to be drawn to the opening of verse 8: But God found fault with the people and said: … The problem is people.  We are imperfect. We want our way.  Our basic default position is to look out for ourselves. That doesn’t sound terrible as I write it, but inevitability what I want will conflict with what someone else wants.  Sin is knocking at the door and will likely bite one or both of us…

The basic problem with the old covenant is that the human heart was not changed, just rules instituted to curb and rein in the sin filled actions of human hearts. Earlier this year in reading the OT we came across priests who abused their position by stealing sacrifices for themselves. Even the ones charged with keeping order and preserving the truth were fallen. We read that after years the Book of the Law was found. God’s Word had been lost even within the community of faith. God’s people abandoned God’s Word.

The people-problem was personal… individuals (all individuals) constantly and repeatedly fell short of God’s Law. And the ‘people-problem’ was corporate because the collective ‘people of God’ were fallen and turned a ‘blind eye’ when evil was tolerated…

Even though I don’t like having to wait for the Good News of the New Covenant, it was spiritually helpful for me to realize how deep the problem was that we humans were in. We humans were doomed and without hope, unless God intervened!... which God did in Christ. The Good News will follow tomorrow.

Lord God, I was utterly lost without Jesus. I didn’t know it at the time but I was completely and utterly lost. Thank You for stepping in and for instituting the New Covenant.

Lord, as I ponder chapter 8, I am left realizing how desperate my spiritual situation was.  Thanks be to You, O God, that chapter 8 isn’t the end of the story… that there is more… that there is Jesus. Alleluia! Amen.


Thursday, May 5: Hebrews 7- Jesus the new priest of God


There maybe some elements of this chapter that are not readily understandable to the Gentile mind, but the gist is wonderfully clear by the end of the chapter. Jesus is the new High Priest who presides over the new and better way to connect to God.  And this new way is permanent and will not change.

The former regulation is set aside … and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Because of this oath, … Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. …because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (18-27).

Jesus is the answer for our disconnection from God. In fact, He is the perfect answer. He is God’s permanent solution to our human problem of disconnection from God.

This begs the question, have you connected with God through Jesus? Have you sought Jesus and sworn allegiance to Him as the Mediator… the One who stands between you and God, the One who connects you with God? That is, after all, what a priest does. A priest represents God to people and people to God…

Jesus is the perfect and only solution to our disconnection from God.  So ask yourself, “Have you connected with God through Jesus?”

Lord, I pray that as people sit with this chapter and consider Jesus, Your perfect answer to our problem, that they will put their hope and trust in Jesus.

And God Almighty, I pray that the manner in which I live today reflects my faith in and love for Jesus as my Lord and Savior and the one who intercedes for me and saves me completely. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, May 4: Hebrews 6- Are you a land of crops or thistles?

Some land just can’t seem to produce good crops. When we visited the Dakotas, it was obvious why the US gave land-grants to people to move and farm there even into the 1900’s. As we traveled we learned that few of the grantees lasted the mandatory three years because the weather was so harsh and the land so difficult to produce a livable crop.

Hebrews uses a land analogy in verses 7-8 to encourage believers to grow in their faith. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

It may seem elementary but God invites us to regularly inspect our lives. Writer after writer challenge us to look within and see if we are growing in Jesus. Interestingly, the Hebrews analogy suggests that the fruit of our lives is verification of our faith.

So back to my opening question: Are you a land of crops or thistles? I believe it was Lloyd Ogilvie who asked a similar question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

A question worthy of contemplation…

Lord, I can easily justify my life.  So I ask You, how would You evaluate my life? Lord, help me to increase the evidence of my life that I am a follower of Yours… in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, May 3: Hebrews 5- Are you growing???


The final warning in this chapter (11-14) made the wheels in my mind turn. Are you growing in your understanding and faith in Jesus? Are you growing?

By this time you ought to be teachers… That’s a pretty hard hitting phrase. As I mull on this, I am not sure the writer is suggesting that everyone should become a teacher.  However, he is clearly making the point that we should all grow to the point where we can stand on our own in The Word.

How are you doing? Are you growing? Am I growing? That God’s devotional nugget/challenge for today.

I was about to head off to the rest of my day when a follow-up question struck me. Do I have a growth plan? Hmmm… that pushes this meditation to another level.

I invite you to ponder that question as well. What’s your plan for growing deep and living more faithfully for Jesus? Think about it…

Jesus, thanks for Your challenge today. Please don’t let me grow complacent.  Challenge me by Your Spirit to go deeper and grow stronger in You. Amen.


Monday, May 2: Hebrews 4- Faith a necessary component.

Three bullets from this chapter got to me. I pondered each one for a moment before moving on in my reading. Bullet 1- from verses 2-3 - I will say more in a moment. Bullet 2 was verse 12-13 about the power and effectiveness of God’s Word. And bullet 3, Jesus, our great High Priest, tempted yet without sin and who invites us to God’s throne of grace (14-16). All are worthy of thought, reflection and comment.

For today’s writing, I focus on the first bullet. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, … (2-3).

The hearing of the Gospel message needs to be combined with a person’s faith in order for it to take root and produce any fruit.

Faith and belief express the same reality. In the verses above, the writer sets up a contrast between ‘we’ and ‘they.’ He writes that we have God’s rest because we believe. But they received no value from the preaching of the gospel because ‘they’ didn’t combine it with faith.

God’s Gospel, God’s Good News, is ripe with value and promise and blessing.  Oh my it is! My life bears witness to 30+ years of fruit from God’s Good News. However it takes more than merely reading the Bible or sitting in church. A person must believe in Jesus, putting their faith and trust in Jesus. Hearing God’s Word only provides value when it is combined with faith.

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Son? Think about it.

O, God, I pray that everyone who reads this simple thought will combine hearing of Your Word with faith and so find Your peace, Your love and Your rest in and through Jesus. Amen.