Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crushed by words


Job 19:1-3 Then Job replied: (2) "How long will you torment me and crush me with words? (3) Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me.


Violence begets violence. Job expected his friends to help him. Instead, they turn into his tormentors. The issue is between him and God, not between him and them. Why do they add to his torture?

With all of the supports of the past and the present taken from him, Job can appeal only to the future. If only he could engrave his case in stone, he knows that ultimately he will be vindicated. Suddenly, in a flash of prophetic insight, Job knows that God is alive and will be his redeemer as well as his mediator and vindicator. While he is yearning for that moment, the reality of his torment takes over again. Turning back to his friends, he warns them that they too are open to God's wrath because of their cruelty toward him. The initiative now belongs to Job.


As I read the text this morning, verse two troubled me, "how long will you torment me and crush me with your words?"

Job is going through a crisis like very few have ever known. All of his children had died, he had lost all of his wealth, as well as his health. His wife was blaming God and telling him that he should just "curse God and die!"

At least he had friends...but his friends who had come to comfort him are not being very comforting. They are tormenting him and crushing him with their words. They weren't very symphathetic, nor were they encouraging.

The Japanese have a saying: "One kind word can warm up three winter months." In the book of Acts, Barnabas speaks words of encouragment to a young man by the name of John Mark. He reached out to him to encourage him. Don't we all need that?

So many times God can use you to reach out to somebody. You know all of us find stress and difficulty in life and you can speak a word to a person, do something for them, believe in them, reach out and meet a physical need.

Sometimes, just a note. You know a written thing is sometimes better than a verbal one and I'll tell you why. Because when you write it you'll probably express your feelings better and the recipient will have it to go back to when he needs it and read it again. I know when you get a written word of encouragement, you keep it. When you get a note that tears you up, you tear it up. The human heart needs encouragement and Barnabas was a man who knew how to do it. Job's friends had no idea how to do it. Quite the contrary actually.

What a contrast. Job being tormented and crushed by the words of his "friends" and John Mark receiving booster shots of encouragment from Barnabas early in his career.Mark had a problem and Barnabas said, "Let me help you fix it."

My question today is, "Are you a Barnabas type of person, or a Job's comforter type of person?" Do people feel refreshed after being around you, or drained? Are you careful with your words or careless?

I pray that no one will ever say of me that my words have "crushed them" or "tormented them" because of my lack of compassion. I want to be an encouragement to everyone that God brings my way today. As you read this, why not ask the Lord, "who can I encourage today" through a text message, facebook, or email. Being careful applies to Facebook and Twitter as well. 

Help us Lord!


"Lord, forgive me for the times that my words have tormented or crushed. That is not Your purpose or will for my life. Help me today to be an encouragment to someone. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Focusing on the Giver and not the gift


Judges 8:27 "Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family."


Gideon was asked to be the ruler over the Israelites and he refused saying that the Lord would rule over them. He asked everyone to bring gold to him. Gideon made an ephod but before long, the Israelites began to worship the ephod.

Those who were very wealthy put ornaments on their camels as a way of displaying their riches. Women wore vast amounts of jewelry as well, often up to 15 pairs of earrings. Jewelry was also worn for good luck. After Gideon's rise to power, he seems to have become carried away with this accumulation of wealth. Eventually it led the Israelites to idolatry.

An ephod was a linen garment worn by priests over their chests. It was considered holy (Exodus 28:6-35; Exodus 39:2-24; Leviticus 8:7-8). Gideon probably had good motives for making the ephod (a visible remembrance commemorating the victory). Unfortunately, the people began to worship the ephod as an idol. Sadly, many decisions that stem from good motives produce negative results. Perhaps no one stops to ask, "What might go wrong?" or "Is there a possibility of negative consequences?" In your plans and decisions, take time to anticipate how a good idea might lead to a potential problem.


It is so easy to began to think more of the blessings from God and rarely think of the God from whom the blessing flows. what if Dorinda celebrated the wedding band I gave her but never talked about me, her husband, the one who gave her the ring? I am thankful for the blessings but I must always remember the One who blessed me. Worship the Giver not the gift. The Healer not the healing. The Savior not salvation. The Restorer not restoration. The Deliverer not deliverance. The Joy giver not joy. The Prince of peace not the peace. The Reconciler not renconciliation. The Baptisizer not the baptism. The Lover not love. The Life giver not life. The Rescuer not the rescue. The Conqueror not the conquer. The Forgiver not forgiveness. The Supplier not the supply. The Commander not the commands. The Soon coming King not the second coming. 

"Help me Jesus to always worship You and not the things You bless me with.  To stay focused on the GIVER and not the GIFT. In Jesus' name, amen"