Love God With Your Talent

The way we grow in our love for God is to love him practically with the three big Ts of our lives: time, talent, treasure. We learned last week that we are to love God with our time, all of the time, and we do so primarily by spending time with our heavenly Father in prayer and with Jesus at his church. Today, let’s look at how we can love God with the 2nd T of the “Whole Life Stewardship” matrix: our talents.
 
Talents Galore!
Our talents include our skills, aptitudes, creativity, and thinking. Do you know how many talents the average person possesses? If you said, “Approximately 700” then you checked out Wikipedia before you got here this morning. 700! That’s astounding and proves that we really are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as David celebrates in Psalms 139:14. With these 700 God-given intellectual, physical, emotional, and relational talents we are able to build a life, make a living, and make massive contributions to ourselves, families, church, and world.
 
Loving God With Our Talents: Dedicate Them
But how do we love God with our talents? The first way is to dedicate them to God. Whether God has blessed us with only 1 talent or 700 we need to pray daily, “Lord, I joyfully dedicate to you all that you have blessed me with.”
 
Loving God With Our Talents: Develop Them
When Paul told us that the purpose of life is to “Do all things for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31) a large part of that doing is to develop the talents he has given us. Sharpening our talents, whatever they may be, is one of the best ways to love God with our talents and show our immense gratitude to him.
 
Loving God With Our Talents III: Deploy Them
The third way we love God with our talents is to deploy them. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 shows us how seriously God wants us to do this. Jesus explains in v14-15
 
14 The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a business owner going on a long trip. He called together his investors and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last … He then left on his trip.
 
A wealthy investment banker decides to go on a trip. Before he does, he has a meeting with his top three investors (zoom?). He notifies them of his intention and before he leaves he gives to each some silver to invest for the highest possible yield. Investor #1 gets 5 bags of silver, #2 gets 3, while #3, 1. Not knowing how long their boss will be gone two of the investors have at it immediately. The 3rd one, not so much. How did the investors do? V16-18 tells us-
 
16 “The investor who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The investor two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the investor who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the boss’ money.
 
When the banker returns he asks his three investors to report on their investment activity. In v20,22 they lay out their spreadsheets and give the results of their efforts.
 
20 Sir, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more” … 22 “The one who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Sir, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
 
The investment strategies of the first two investors proved to be phenomenal: a 100% return for both. Bossman is ecstatic. He praises his two investors, breaks out the champagne, and promises to entrust them with even more resources to manage in the future (v21-23).
 
However, not all is sunny in Sunnydale! When investor #3 gives his earnings report the party comes to a swift and abrupt end. He explains with a little snark (v24-25).
 
I didn’t do anything with that one measly bag of silver you gave me. I didn’t because you are a big jerk. I really don’t even like working for you. Even if did invest your money and the market crashed you would blame me. Here, take it back.
 
How would you treat your financial advisor if s/he had the same attitude and similar incompetence? They say if you want to be successful at your job show up 15 minutes early, stay 15 minutes late, have a great attitude and ask your boss, “How can I help you today?” Investor #3 never got that memo. Without consulting the HR department the boss reads him the riot act:
 
26 You piece of work! … 27 why didn’t you just deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ 28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from him, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.
 
Talk about having your meters in the red! The boss fires Investor #3 and bans him from ever working for his company again.
 
Parabolic Interpretation
So what’s going on in this parable? The actors in it are easily identified. Jesus is the Boss, the Big Kahuna! The “trip” he takes refers to the time lapse between his 1st and 2nd Comings. The three investors represent all of his followers down through the ages. The bags of silver are the talents he has graciously given to them.
Motivation???
The point of the parable is that we are to enthusiastically dedicate, develop, and deploy each of our talents for the glory of God and as a way to show our love for him. We are to faithfully do so until he arrives again. However, if we need a little extra motivation in the supreme joy of using our talents Jesus provides it in (v29)
 
To those who use well what they are given, even more, will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
 
This is passage is clear that Jesus will bless us way more than we can imagine, in this world and the world to come, should we use our talents as a way of loving him. However, it is also clear that those who do not use their talents (for whatever reason) will be cursed, in this world, and the world to come.
 
Conclusion: Good @ Love 2 Do?
The great news today is that it doesn’t matter how old or how young or in between we are, God is not done with us yet. Therefore, there are only two reasons we are exempt from continually dedicating, developing, and deploying our talents: (1) When God calls us from this world into the next. (2) When we stop loving God. So if we really believe that today we will enthusiastically smash the old 20-80 church rule: 20% of the people do all the work so that 80% can complain about the work being done.
 
This is a marvelous congregation chock full of amazingly gifted, highly talented, and experienced people. To help us stay motivated in our love for God, and the use of our talents, we all need to sign the “Good @ Luv 2 Du” list on the back wall.

How God Does His Best Work In Us

“He Restores My Soul” (Psalm 23:3)
 
Without a doubt, Psalm 23, a.k.a., “The Shepherd’s Psalm” is the best known and most beloved of the 150 Psalms that comprise the Book of Psalms. In it, David, an effective shepherd in his own right, praises God’s shepherding activities, chief of which is to restore the souls of those who follow him.
 
Burnout, whether in careers, relationships, or even the faith itself, occurs when we chronically give out more than we take in. Christ-followers always run the risk of burnout because we, by our spiritual genetics and the example of Jesus, live a sacrificial life.
 
But even as we sacrifice we need uninhibited rivers of restoration flowing into our souls. So how does our Great Shepherd do his best work in restoring our souls? The conventional ways are through the simple practices of prayer, reading the Word, worship, and fellowship. We can always depend on these, however, there are a few other ways as well.
 
(1) Live in an “attitude of gratitude.” It was once said that gratitude is the “foundation of all good things in life.” I know that when my soul starts to feel toasty, I start to focus on what God has blessed me with, and when I do my soul begins to hydrate.
 
(2) Enjoy Life. I Timothy 6:17 tells us that God “gives us all things to enjoy.” He has created this beautiful world for us, not only to steward but also to enjoy. But do we? A few weeks ago my wife called me a workaholic. At first, I thought it was a badge of honor but then I remembered that workaholism, like any “ism”, is actually unhealthy. I’m working harder (get it?) to regain a better balance in my life so that I can indeed enjoy all things (including the gift of her).
 
(3) Focus on Goodness More Than Badness. In the last few years, I have been getting more interested in national politics. This I believe is wise because as a citizen I cannot afford to be ignorant about the issues that concern my country or me. However, the way the issues are processed and presented through the current media, i.e., so sensationally, so ubiquitously, and so negatively, I noticed that the deflation rate of my soul was higher than ever before. Because we become what we focus on, I now try to do two things to restore it: (a) limit my time “keeping up” with political commentary, whether on TV or social media and (b) look for the good stuff out there. Believe it or not, the good stuff is out there but we really have to dig for it.
God does his best work in us when he restores our soul. All we have to do is let him.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Center Stage

Jesus must increase but I must decrease.
(John 3:30)
 
Our lives are stories we are writing every day. We are not only the author of these stories but also the main actors in it. Jesus is also writing a story and it is called the Kingdom of God. Fascinatingly, there is an intersection between God’s story and ours and we are just as much actors in his as he is in ours.
 
The question of how our stories playout largely depends on how much we involve ourselves in God’s story and, conversely, how much we allow him to play a role in ours. John the Baptist was the superstar of his story but he wanted a happier ending. Thus, he willingly demoted himself to become a supporting actor in his very own story. Because he did, Jesus became a mega-star and John received (is receiving) mammoth rewards in heaven. Now that’s what I call a happy ending!
 
If we want our story to have a happy ending let’s do what John did: move stage right and allow Jesus to take center stage.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Love God With Your Time (All of the Time)

Introduction: Love Language
Last week in our “Love God” series we saw what Jesus’ love language is John 14:15, “If you love me obey my commandments.” Although obedience as a condition of loving Jesus may sound unusual it’s actually quite natural because obedience springs from love and love motivates obedience. Furthermore, we do our dead-level best to obey the 49 commandments of Jesus because doing so: (1) Makes us better people. (2) Protects us from danger. (3) Demonstrates to heaven, hell, and earth alike that we love him the most.
 
Who Is Leading You?
So now we come to the part of our series that is insanely practical. This is where we bring all of this splendid theological, theoretical love talk down to where the rubber meets the road. Before we do, each of us needs to answer a very important question: “Who is your leader?” or “What is leading you?” Each of us is being led by someone or something even if it is our very selves. So if a space alien came down and demanded, “Take me to your leader” to whom or to what would you take him? This is the most important question because if Jesus is our ultimate leader, we’ll understand the topics that we are about to discuss today and over the next few weeks. If not, not so much.
 
WLS: We Don’t Own Anything
When we think of the practicalities of the Christian life we do so in three major categories called, Time, Talent, and Treasure, a.k.a., “Whole Life Stewardship.” Time is the gift God has given us steward to exist on this planet. Talent encompasses our skills, aptitudes, thinking, and spiritual gifts. Treasure is the material and non-material things we steward including our money, bodies, and relationships.
 
About Time
Today, let’s spend time on how to practically love God with our time. Although the gift of time will vary for each of us (Four Score and Ten?) it’s the most valuable gift we have. Without it, we really can’t enjoy our talent and treasure, at least not for very long because time represents life. Therefore, if we are killing or wasting time what are we really killing or wasting? Harvey Mackay said of time: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”
 
Groucho Marx once joked, “Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.” He must have gotten that from King David who described time as a vapor and morning dew. Thus, he prayed in Psalm 39:4, “Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” Moses prayed likewise in Psalm 90:12, “Lord teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” And Paul encouraged in Ephesians 5:15-17
 
15 Be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
 
These biblical writers weren’t advocating that we become experts in time-management, but that we spend our time in a certain way. Essentially there are only two options: Spend it on God or Spend it on Self. Leo Christopher once said, “There’s only one thing more precious than time, that’s who or what we spend it on.” If we are going to be “wise” and “not foolish” as Moses and Paul encouraged, we should spend our time living for God. And we will IF we love him.
 
Spending Time With
There is a principle that we need to grasp: We naturally spend time with and on the people and things we love the most. This is a law of the human heart the way gravity is a law of physics. As a free moral being, I naturally spend time with my wife because I love her.
 
Spending Time with God In Prayer
If Jesus is our leader we need to know what he loved and therefore, spend most of his time on? His greatest love was his Father thus he spent mucho time with him in prayer. Yes, he asked his Father for strength and guidance. Yes, he made requests to his Father on behalf of others and himself. But mostly, he spent time in prayer because he loved being with his Father. Lately, I have been realizing that prayer, although hard work and necessary for spiritual growth, is a strong indicator of the amount of our love for God, both in terms of quality and quantity. So if we are growing in our love for God, which is the hope of our series and absolutely the best thing that could happen to us, are we beginning to see an uptick in the time we spend with God in prayer?
 
Spending Time with Jesus Doing Ministry
Jesus loved spending time with his greatest love, his Father. Do you know what his second greatest love was? Ephesians 5:25, known as the “marriage imperative,” makes it clear, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Jesus loved the church so much that he freely and sacrificially allowed himself to be executed for her. Why? Because the church, even with all of its warts, pimples, and flaws, is his Bride, Body, and Temple. The church is his Salt, Light, and City set on the hill. It is his faith, hope, and love counter-cultural, alternative, missional and redemptive community. His church is global and local, invisible and visible, and resides on both earth and heaven. The church is the hope of the world and there is not even a close second. The church is the second greatest thing in heaven, the greatest thing on earth, and the greatest threat to hell. Jesus loves his church so much that he sent his Spirit to empower it, guide it, protect it, and grow it. Jesus spends mucho time with his church because he loves it so much. How do we know this? Because of his promise in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am with them.” Where is Jesus right now? Right here, because he loves us so much.
 
Conclusion:
If you did a quick time management study what would it reveal in terms of how much time you spend in prayer with the Father? If the results were “non-existent” or “not enough” or “very little” then it’s time to create a prayer habit out of this most glorious of all spiritual disciplines by setting a time and place daily. You will be so glad you did.
 
What might that same time management study reveal about the amount of time you spend at church with Jesus, especially if we took off the one-hour weekly Sunday Service? Again, if it is “not enough” or “very little” then it’s time to spend more time here at church helping Jesus expand his ministries. We got tons of ministry visions but we need your time to make them come into reality. And here’s the most awesome thing. The more time we spend helping Jesus grow his church, the more he will reward us in this life and the one to come. Remember, Jesus does have us until he has our schedules. Sign-ups are in the back of the church.

The Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:15)

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.

The Hebrew author has just extolled the value and virtue of Jesus, particularly regarding his redeeming work on the Cross. Because of what Christ has done for us our response is to offer to unceasing and sacrificial praise to him. In this way, we are proclaiming our undying fealty to him.

It bewilders me that the author here describes praise as being sacrificial in nature. Shouldn’t we enthusiastically praise Jesus all the time for the amazing things he has done for us? Shouldn’t praise be as natural to us as breathing?

Sure, ideally. However, the praise of the “forever-worthy” Christ is sacrificial in nature because we must eliminate, or suspend, something else in order to do this grand act of worship.  Biblically nuanced, worship generally, and praise specifically, is always considered as a valuable gift we give to God. And the greatest give we can possibly give is to render our full selves unto to God in deep admiration and adoration.

So how can we practically fulfill the command to offer “continual sacrifice of praise to God, through Jesus” especially in a culture where both Christians and non-Christians increasingly treat Sunday’s (The Lord’s Day) as the second Saturday of the week, i.e., an extra day of recreation to “do what I want to do?”

Answer: We whole-heartedly proclaim our steadfast allegiance to his name by making congregational worship the heartbeat and highlight of our week. And we do so, unflinchingly and faithfully!

See you this Sunday.

Agape,

Pj

Love God V-How To 3

Intro:
 
Have you ever sat down with a loved one and explained to them exactly how he or she should meet your relational needs? If that sounds strange it’s probably is because we have an innate fear that expressing our needs is selfish (it’s not). Or, we might be suffering from the Hollywood or romance novel syndrome. That’s the assumption that if my spouse or loved one, is really into me they will intuitively know what my needs are, without me ever uttering a single solitary word.
 
Although conversations about relational needs met may be rare or even uncomfortable, they are indispensable for healthy and growing relationships. I say that because over the years I have noticed that most of the issues that surface during counseling sessions revolve around a lack of communication regarding relational needs. Most people want their relationships to be satisfying, fulfilling, and successful but haven’t openly or honestly discussed how to make it so. And we all know what happens when relational needs aren’t met. Dysfunctions like frustration, anger, and resentment can settle in and damage the relationship, sometimes permanently. The irony: these can be easily avoided if we clearly communicate our relational expectations. For instance,
 
I need you to finish that “honey-do” list honey because acts of service are my main love language. I really need you to be more affectionate. I love it when we spend time together without distractions.
 
How Jesus Wants to Be Loved
How many do you know that Jesus was a clear communicator but he certainly wasn’t selfish? He certainly didn’t leave us in the dark as to what his main relational need was, particularly how he wanted us to love him. With crystal clarity, he tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me obey my commandments.” He then continued in John 14:21 “Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me.
 
Pretty simple! Pretty clear! Pretty direct! Notice it’s not, “If you love me, just believe I exist.” Or, “If you love me, just accept me.” Or, “If you love me, just do your devotions.” No, it’s “If you love me I need you to do something very specific for me, and that’s to obey my commandments.”
 
Confusing?
Who said what to who now? At first blush, Jesus tying love and obedience together seems confusing. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are, “Saved by grace through faith and not of works.” Now Jesus says that we must obey him which, quite frankly, is a lot of work. Is he saying that we are on the performance plan with him? That we are saved by obedience? What in tarnation does he mean? We’ve got to know because he gave us 49 direct commands so do we have to obey every one of them in order to be saved? Yes!
 
Obedience’s Bad Rap
Before we see the connection between love and obedience let’s just say that obedience gets a bad rap. “Obey” sounds so oppressive and authoritative. But that’s not the tone or nuance of it in Scripture. For instance, we have a family dog, an Australian Shepherd, named Crosby (by the cross), after the greatest hockey player on the planet, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Australian Shepherds are bred for high energy, high intelligence, and most of all, high will (stubbornness). They are not bred to be complaint or comfy lap dogs.
 
They can’t be. If a 1300-pound bull doesn’t want to move from one grazing place to another, the Australian’s inborn tenacity will keep him nipping at the bull’s heels until he moves, no matter how many hoofs the Aussie has to endure to the snout. When we got Crosby we were pretty much unaware of these characteristics, however. We got him because he was cute and his coloring was exquisite. However, we soon found out that we had a mammoth challenge on our hands.
 
So we need to continually teach him obedience and even once enrolled him in obedience school. Believe me, it’s continual labor of love and patience, but we keep obedience at the forefront because: (1) It makes him a better dog. (2) It protects him from danger. If he obeys us he won’t chase the ball or Geico squirrel into the busy intersection. (3) We love him. He’s a part of the family and love always wants what’s best for what it loves.
The Love – Obedience Connection
Now the connection between love and obedience is more natural than we might think. Obedience is not a condition of love for if it were it would contradict the Gospel of grace. However, hear me now and believe me later, obedience springs from love, and love motivates obedience. Let me illustrate with a couple of personal examples.
 
Growing up, my three sisters and I had chores to do. These chores included making our beds, doing dishes, washing cars, feeding animals, weeding the garden, taking out the garbage, and mowing the lawn, etc. Obviously, those chores were a chore, but every once-in-a-while I would add to them by cleaning out my dad’s garage and rearranging his toolshed. He never told me to do these things but I did them for two simple reasons, (1) They needed to be done, and (2) I loved my dad.
 
Likewise, when Lisa gives me her mile-long “honey-do” list, complete with detailed instructions and amazing specificity, I “chore” through it, sometimes, I confess, with grumbling and complaining, not to earn her love, I have that already, but because I love her, and it needs to be done.
Likewise, we obey Jesus because: (1) Doing so makes us better people. (2) Doing so protects us from danger. (3) Doing so demonstrates we love him. Obviously, we can obey out him of fear. I mean, ultimately there are consequences to disobeying the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” However, fear-based obedience neither glorifies him nor satisfies us and is not a recipe for long-term relationships.
 
Conclusion
To sum: we don’t obey Jesus out of works, fear, or even to get saved. We saved because we are madly in love with Jesus and obey him out of that same love. Obedience flows out of love while disobedience flows out of a lack of love. For instance, a husband and wife were having marital issues which, unfortunately, were being exacerbated by the wife’s extra-marital affair. She agreed to go to marital therapy but not to break-off the extra-marital relationship. Neither the therapist nor the husband could convince her that it was impossible to heal the marriage until she broke it off with the other person. “What’s the big deal” she questioned, “I still love my husband.” Who in this room would want to be in a relationship based on that kind of disobedient love?
 
Let’s conclude our message with the hope that we would love Jesus more by obeying him more. Obedient love is the most beautiful, greatest, and purest of all loves. It is the very love with which Jesus wants us to love him so let’s pray now that we are willing and able to love him in this way.

We Win (And Always Will)

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37
 
In the face of mounting persecution and death. In the context of watching fellow Christians getting imprisoned and tortured, (many of whom were his close friends), the apostle Paul declares that despite the horrible external circumstances that we are conquerors because of what Jesus has done for us and because he loves us. He is Christus Victor, i.e., our victorious champion who sits in the unrivaled, unchallenged place of the highest authority, “The right hand of the Father” (Mark 16:19). He himself promised that although we suffer tribulation in this world, we can be filled with joy because he has already “overcome the world” (John 16:33) by his sinless life, substitutionary sacrifice, and supernatural resurrection.
 
So if you are feeling a bit down today, perhaps because of the virus, personal issues, or even the struggles of the world and church, cheer up! Be filled with joy because we win, and always will, because of Jesus’ supremacy over all forces hostile to God, his people, and his world.
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Love God III-How To Love God 2

Introduction: Uniqueness & Enormity of Love God Project

Thus far in our “Love God” series, we saw why we are to love God: he deserves it and loving him is absolutely the best thing we could ever imagine. Then we looked at how to love God. We love God by first loving the compassionate and courageous Son of God and God the Son, Jesus, with nothing less than “all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

We now come to the most challenging part of our series. If we can love God in the way we are going to describe today, then all the practical ways we are to love him, which we will cover later on in the series, will be incredibly easier. Now, come with me to one of the most troubling stories in the Bible, “The job on Job.”

A Divine Wager

In the book that bears his name, Job is characterized as a blameless and righteous man who revers God and resists evil. He has 10 kids, massive wealth, and a reputation of being, “the greatest man in all of the East” (v3). In other words, he is religious, wealthy, prolific in procreation, and a great statesman. Does it get any better than that? However, his blessed position catches the eye of Satan. So one day, he traverses the dimensions of our three-tiered universe and comes before the throne of God. God asks Satan, “What do think about my main man Job?” Satan replies,

“Honestly God, he doesn’t really move the needle for me. He’s just like all those other dirt worms you created. He only loves you because you bless him and protect him from me. You don’t seem to get it, God, nobody on earth loves you for who you are. Stop blessing and protecting Job and his love for you will fold quicker than an overcaffeinated origami artist.”  God replies, “Wanna bet?” Satan responds, “What did you have in mind?” God says, “Do your darndest against Job but do not take his life.” “You’ll see that he will love me for nothing.”

The job on Job

I don’t know how you feel about divine wagers but if this scenario doesn’t send shivers up your spine I am not sure what will. Satan leaves God and with demonic delight starts his systematic destruction of everything Job.

-v14: Job’s livestock are stolen by a rogue group called the Sabeans, who then kill some of his servants (watch out for them).

-v16: A lightning strike from heaven kills more of Job’s livestock and servants.

-v17: The Chaldeans send a raiding party that take Job’s camels and kill more of his servants (watch out for them).

-v18-19: A tornado kills all of his sons and daughters.

For Job, bad news doesn’t come in threes, but fours. After the last catastrophe, Job falls to the ground and laments (v21), “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.” v22 tells us, however, that despite all that has befallen him he still loves God for nothing, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Double or Nothing: Health Crisis

Afterward, God tells Satan, “I told you Job loves me for nothing.” But Satan responds (2:4-5)

4 Skin for skin! A person will give all he has for his own life. 5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.

God replies, “Double or nothing?” “Take his health but do not take his life.” Talk about double jeopardy! It’s been said, “If you have your health you have everything.” But what if your health is taken away? What do you have then? Job is about to find out.

Boiling Away

The next time we see Job he’s boiling away. By that I mean he is infected with boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Twice I have had the misfortune of getting boils that had to be surgically lanced from my body. Let me just say, it’s horrible! In agony and anguish, Job sits down and starts scraping away at these ulcerating pulsations. They say that God never gives us more than we can handle. Do you think Job has had enough? Well, unfortunately, there’s more to go and it’s probably the most painful part of the job on Job.

Job’s Wife

Job’s wife, i.e., his companion and confidant, sees what’s going on with her husband. She rushes in to do her dead-level best to comfort and console him. “Give it up already! Curse God and die” (2:9). Either she skipped out on their pre-marital counseling or she suddenly forgot her wedding vows: “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part.” Job, on the other hand, attended both his pre-marital counseling and basic theology class. Thus, he responds to his wife, not in anger, but with air-tight logic (2:10), “Shall we receive only good from God and not trouble?” Because most of us love God for something, that seems like a rather puzzling question. But 2:10 tells us, “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Amazingly, he still loves God for nothing.

The 3 Amigos: Eliphaz, Bilad, and Zophar

I wish I could say this was the merciful end of the job on Job, but it isn’t. His three amigos, Eliphaz, Bilad, and Zophar, make a visit to support and comfort Job. They do so by blaming him for all that he has suffered. “Job just confess that your secret sin is really ticking God off. You’re the culprit of your own suffering!” How many do you think that Job needs to find some new friends? Their piling on continues day and night for days until Job finally responds in 13:15 and 19:25

Though he slays me, yet will I hope in him…

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

These Scriptures tell us, that although Job lost it all: family and friends, health and wealth that he loves God for nothing! Because he does, God double restores back to him all that he lost.

Conclusion: Helping a Person-For Nothing

I don’t know if divine wagers still occur in heaven today but if God placed his bet on you, that no matter what you would love him for nothing, would he win? Or would the devil? He is so certain that we only love God for something, and once that something is taken away, we won’t love God any longer. Now obviously, God is very generous and loves lavishing all kinds of blessings and benefits upon us, amazingly, whether we love him or not. However, do we love blessings more than the Blessor? Or gifts more than the Giver? Or, if there were no gifts or blessings at all, would we love God just for who he is? Loving God for nothing is the how on how we love God (and everyone else). Everything else is gravy, temporary gravy, so let’s pray that we might love God in that way

An Experience in Yummy Goodness

Galatians 6:10  Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
 
Paul states the “priority of opportunity” for the care ministries of the church. Indeed, the church is to care for/minister to all people at all times, however, it is to first start with the “family of believers.” The phrase “family of believers” here identifies the folks who are committed to the covenantal faith community (i.e., church) and are serving Jesus Christ by serving others.
 
In the spirit of Ephesians 6:10, Lisa and I want to take a moment to thank the caring “family of believers” of the great Bay Point church. Since her surgery a few weeks ago you have overwhelmed us with a steady stream of varied and delicious meals, (including lasagnas, soups, salads, desserts, and … drum roll please… POT ROAST & PRIME RIB). Your excellent “food care” has not only kept us well-nourished during this healing time but has greatly eased my tremendously deficient culinary skills and (fortunately or unfortunately), has totally blown up my summer plans to lose a few (lol).
 
With the army of excellent cooks and caring people at Bay Point, I’m envisioning a new initiative to feed needy folks in our community. Let’s do it!
 
Agape,
 
Pj

Run To The Tower

Proverbs 18:10
 
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
 
Solomon, David and Bathsheba’s second son, had a reputation for being the wisest wise guy in the world. After inheriting the throne from his father, he accomplished two extraordinary feats (other than marring 1000 women lol), (1) construct the long-awaited and opulent Temple his father had envisioned years previously and (2) unify the northern and southern tribes of Israel.
 
In this proverb, however, Solomon’s wisdom envisions God as a strong impenetrable and unassailable tower. The tower imagery suggests that God himself is the ultimate Tower of TO WHICH his people can always run and not be destroyed by their trials, tribulations, and troubles.
 
So if you are feeling threatened by someone today, run to the Tower! If you are feeling insecure over world events, run to the Tower! If you have already run to everything else and have been disappointed, run to the Tower! Run to the Tower and be safe, once and for all, and forevermore!
 
Agape,
 
Pj

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