Devotional · Uncategorized

The Haves and Have-nots

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Job 1:21

We have heard this expression used when calculating global economies, but how does it apply to the world of 2020?

The book of Job is written about a man favoured by God. Not only was Job wealthy, but he had a large family. The Bible records “He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:3). Apparently his lifestyle pleased God, for we are given a glimpse into a conversation taking place before the throne of God. The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and up-right, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8).

In 2020 I wonder how the conversation has gone between God and Satan. God could challenge Satan again to look at the world He created and the people whom He loves. (Let’s remember, since we just celebrated Easter, God sent His only begotten Son to pay the price of the sins of all people.) Hypothetically, would it have gone something like this? God: Have you considered my servants in North America? They have been reading their Bibles and praying, giving selflessly to the poor, caring for the disadvantaged at home and abroad, welcoming strangers into their hearts and homes, so they could tell them about the love of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. They have been straining to look after the environment, even at the cost of their own comfort and convenience. There is no other nation on earth like them!

Or, would God looking down see self-indulgence, greed, hatred and a spirit of entitlement? In this “me” generation does God care about our human rights, yours and mine, or has He called His children to care about the rights of those less fortunate? Surely as the world trembles in the face of an invisible enemy today, we might do some soul-searching.

Faced with the overthrow of all his good fortune, God had allowed Satan to test Job to the limit. He lost his property, his family and his health. Wouldn’t that make most people scream that God is ‘unfair’? Perhaps Job’s worldview may mean something to anyone facing the loss of all they hold dear. The Bible tells us he did not lose his faith in God, but rather fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: “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!” (Job 1:21).

Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul knew something of Job’s experience. He tells us “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12).

Reflection:

Does our happiness depend on what we have, or does the attitude of gratitude colour our world rosy?

When do we most often find ourselves on our knees? Usually it is when we are in need.

Can we, do we trust God to supply all our needs through His riches in glory in Christ Jesus? (Philippians

4:19)

Do we count our relationship with God among our riches? Do you have, or have not?

Let us pray the prayer of David – Psalm 51:10-12.

Devotional · Uncategorized

This Sickness

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John 11:1-14

 

Jesus wasn’t worried. He knew God had a plan. As always, God’s plan was perfect. Lazarus died. I asked myself – “How do I respond when bad things come into my life?” Quite naturally, Mary and Martha and their family friends grieved over the death of a beloved brother. They could not have hoped that Lazarus would be raised from the dead – nothing like that had ever happened like that before.

 

Meanwhile the disciples who were with Jesus were astonished at His reaction to the news that Lazarus was seriously ill! Here was this marvellous healer lingering where He was for 2 days (:5). They knew He loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha. He demonstrated time and again such compassion for people He didn’t know, in the face of physical suffering. Why did He delay?

 

“This sickness” Jesus told them, “will not end in death” (:4). But then on their way back to Bethany, Jesus revealed what they could not know. “Lazarus is dead” (:14). What a contradiction! Jesus did give them a clue, but did the disciples understand it? He told them up front that this sickness was for God’s glory. How could that possibly be if He didn’t heal Lazarus…..and now it was hopeless – Lazarus was dead.

 

By the time Jesus journeyed back to Judea Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. In a hot country the body quickly decomposes so when He wanted to go to the grave, Martha warned Jesus there would be a very bad odour (11:39).

 

What no one understood was the purpose of this disaster. What questions ran through the minds of the disciples as they travelled to Bethany? What expectations did Mary and Martha have when Jesus arrived? On the way to see the grieving family, Jesus told the disciples He was glad He was not there at the time of Lazarus’ death (:15). They probably attributed that to those common human feelings which come when we face pain. He did tell them He was going to wake Lazarus up – whatever did He mean? (:11)

Jesus also told those who followed Him that this was a test of faith….”that you may believe” (:15). Often a man of mystery, Jesus even today calls us to trust Him when we do not understand what God is doing. What happened to Lazarus demonstrated the glory of God much more than restoration from a sick bed (:41-44). What a glorious revelation of the power of God.

 

This account not only brought glory to God in the days of Jesus, but it encourages our belief today, does it now? Belief in God’s power, and ability to bring to fruition His plans, which, if we read this correctly is simply to make us aware of His magnificence in order to worship the One who is often beyond our finite understanding.

 

Reflection:

When you and I are faced with disaster, do we believe that God will bring glory to Himself through an unbelievable situation?

What situations do we face that seem to be hopeless, and how does our faith in God strengthen us?

Do we truly understand the God we say we worship?

Devotional · Uncategorized

God’s Compassion

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Psalm 116:5-9

Our Life Group had been praying for a woman who has been in a coma for 2 years. What her family have endured during that time can never be told. But I was reminded of the verse that in the King James speaks of “bowels of compassion” – describing the depth of God’s interest in our lives. He calls us to emulate Him by our compassionate hearts, bowels of mercies, heartfelt compassion and other phrases descriptive in various versions of the Bible, of God’s generous nature.

This family is content to let their loved one linger on, but there are many today who would say it is a useless life, one that should be ended. As Christians we believe that matters of life and death rest in the hands of Almighty God – the God of all compassion (Psalm 116:5). On what grounds would a human being decide who should live and who should die; is that decision based on the diagnosis of a terminal or incurable Illness? Many, for example, would agree that ALS is a reason to end life, yet the ‘genius’ of our age, Stephen Hawking, continued to dazzle the world with his scientific mind for nearly 50 years, in spite of the fact he could not speak and was totally helpless to care for himself.

Our generation has been given so much knowledge that we face choices not faced by those who have gone before us. Should we pull the plug, for example and when? Well in days gone by there had been no plug to pull. Now we should be like gods – that very desire which caused Satan to be cast out of heaven has been fulfilled. God allowed man to have a peek into some of the deeper concerns regarding running the universe. If we misuse the knowledge we have now, what eternal damage might be done when we appropriate choices that still belong to God?

In the case of the lady and others like her in coma, how can we see God’s compassion at work? Perhaps we cannot, but her family still wait in hope and everyone will agree that hope is a wonderful thing! It turns bitter into sweet. We learn through our trials that God’s presence and strength are sufficient day by day. Only in truly difficult circumstances can we know the exquisite rest that comes when our hearts trust in His compassion. We might even marvel at the wisdom that is keeping her alive, without contributing to her community of family and friends.

Reflection:

It’s within the nature of man to want to know, but we cannot invent answers to a faith that trusts in the all-wise compassions of the Divine being whose ways often present us with unsolvable (by our finite wisdom) mysteries. In this we must let God be God.

Is it through the eyes of faith that we see the compassion of God at work in difficult circumstances?

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