God is Missing

Job 23: 2

If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there.

Is this not heart-breaking? How sad! Have you read Job recently? It is quite the read. If you decide it is time for you to read it again, let me caution you. Do not take your doctrine from Job’s “friends.” You will see that God was none too pleased with their advice. Anyway, it is a very interesting book to read. We are in a very different place theologically than Job but some of the similarities are alarming.

You know the story, Job was living the high life and he loved God. Then Satan came along and destroyed everything Job had and loved, including his family. Job became very confused and eventually bitter. He worked it out in the end but throughout the book you hear him voice many of the doubts and complaints we have all thought.

Now, in his eighth speech he confesses plainly, “I don’t know where God is.” In the midst of his pain and devastation, he cannot find God. Let me ask you, where was God during this time? We believe God was within reach the whole time. Job was so busy blaming God that he couldn’t find him. I don’t think he tried. He believed God was in some far off place in the clouds separated from the woes of people.

We think differently today and yet . . . I would wager that over 90% of the people reading today’s devotional have thought the same thing Job said and felt as Job must have felt. Where is this God who is supposed to love us so immensely? Why is He allowing me to suffer?

Do you know where to find God? Do you know how to get to His throne room? Do you have a place you can go to speak with God? This is a matter that must be resolved! We cannot leave this to chance any longer. You are entitled to speak with God all the time and you need to.

When I first began learning to talk with God face to face, I had to get out of his throne room. When I was in the throne room, I always felt like a conscripted soldier kneeling at the throne awaiting my marching orders. This was not the posture of a love relationship. It was servitude. I am happy to serve my God, but He was not happy. He didn’t want a servant, nor a soldier. He wanted a child. I was not ready to be a vulnerable, loving child at that time, but I needed to learn to meet Him on more level ground; I needed to be able to speak with Him, actually talk with Him.

I began by picturing the two of us sitting at my conference room table. I could look across the table and see Him. He was in the dimensions of a normal person rather than a gigantic God. I could look at Him and not be intimidated or humbled into servitude. We began there. I could sit in the comfort of my living room but still picture us at the conference room table. With my mind’s eye trained on Him, I could talk with Him, and I began to learn to hear Him.

We’ve come a long way since then. Now He rides my bike with me. Imagine the picture of me, Yahweh, the Holy Spirit and Jesus all riding my bike together. Hilarious, right? I tried leaving Jesus and HS home, but they go everywhere I go, and they go everywhere He goes so we just had to invite them too. Then there was the day I was aware of angels with me too. Look how far we have come from kneeling at the foot of the throne. Now we look like a circus act.

Where is God Job? Where is His throne room? He is right there with you right now. He doesn’t need a throne or a throne room. He is happier sitting beside the creek or on the beach with you. Close your eyes. Picture Yahweh in a cozy chair across from you where you are both seated next to a crackling fire in the fireplace. Or picture the two of you in a two person kayak. Whatever your comfort spot is, close your eyes and see it. Then see Yahweh right there with you. Now, open up your mouth and say, right out loud, whatever it is you’ve been wanting to talk with Him about. Leave the holy prayers for Sunday and just speak. Talk with your best friend. He is right there with you, right now. How’s that?

Forgiveness

Ephesians 1: 7        NIV

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Yesterday we observed a bit of what God’s grace does for us. Today’s verse adds another dimension. The grace of God provides for our redemption, restoration and the forgiveness of sins.

Sometimes I am awed at the amazing end play God pulled off to restore humanity. It is an amazing story and the devil played right into God’s hands. Then again, he was predictable, and God took advantage of the situation to install Jesus as the unblemished lamb who became king. This miracle of planning and execution brought humanity into an enviable position and now we walk as heirs to a mighty empire.

This thing about forgiveness is interesting though. I have met people who cannot receive forgiveness. It is truly sad that they would let the blood of Jesus, which was spilled for them, have no effect in their lives. The converse is true too. There are some who take the blood and forgiveness for granted. Most of us understand the blood of forgiveness which God’s grace and love caused to be shed and we are grateful. However, I wonder if the more we understand the forgiving power that was in that blood the more we are likely to take it for granted. Sometimes the biggest sinners are the most grateful because they feel their salvation and redemption as if it is close at hand. Others, perhaps, are not as keenly aware of the heat of hell that was burning for them.

The plan of God to restore us was intricate. However, receiving forgiveness, now, on this side of the cross, is actually easy. “Father, please forgive me.” In fact, we actually already have forgiveness. Our sins have already been forgiven. We don’t have to show up at the temple and offer the blood of animals to cover over our sin. It has been done in Jesus. Now, I know you already know this but here is my question, does this simplicity ever make it less frightening for us to sin? We know we have forgiveness so do we ever get complacent? Do we think we can sin now and pray later, and everything will be alright? Do we use our forgiveness as an excuse to be lazy about sin? What is the harm in a little sin behavior right now when we know we can ask for forgiveness later?

I like to think none of us does this consciously, but I do wonder if the benevolence and magnitude of God’s grace ever makes us a little sloppy. Some people have actually used the grace message to develop a doctrine around loose behavior. It’s crazy and I am not talking about those people. They are just being stupid, and they know better. I am more interested in us, regular, everyday Christians. Have we become desensitized to the point that we are no longer concerned about offending God? It is just a question I have been pondering and thought you might ponder with me. I would love to hear your thoughts. Click on the link below and share. Thanks.

Grace

Colossians 1: 11          NLT

We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

If I could say this better than Paul did, I would. However, he so wonderfully hit upon exactly what we all need. This struck me as something he could have written yesterday as he was thinking about the Corona Virus crisis and all its attendant problems from supply shortages to economic fluctuations and the rest. I suppose, each generation has its challenges, and we are all in need of the same grace, comfort and divine strength as the previous generation.

Has there ever been a season when your patience was stretched further than it has been in the last two years? Endurance?! You bet we are in need of endurance. We certainly need strengthening. I’ve seen so many who are run down to the last ounce of their endurance, but God picks them up and off they go again. We have all been tried in what seems every possible way these last two years which is why we need a prayer like this, and I do pray this prayer over you all today.

There is a word which encompasses all the blessings Paul prays for. It is grace. Grace is hard to define but you sure know it when you see it. One definition for it is courteous goodwill. I like that. It shows the poise and kindness of a Father who could deal out punishment but chooses not to. Goodwill represents the Fathers consistent best intention for you. I think of courteous as well mannered, elegant and classy. It is that kind of goodwill his grace shows us. He empowers and sustains us with the gentleness of a Victorian gentleman. His words are kind and gentle, a balm for a troubled spirit. His grace isn’t demanding but it is uncompromising. Father’s grace picks us up when we stumble. It treats the wound and restores us. Grace is a beautiful thing.

One might also be intrigued that Paul would preach joy and thanksgiving considering he wrote this letter from prison. He had a personal revelation of God’s grace coming on the scene to meet needs. Paul experienced God’s power strengthening him, giving him the patience and endurance he needed. We, too, are in need of the sustaining power of grace. May it overwhelm your problems and refill your tank today.

Give What you Have

Genesis 40: 8

“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”

Just one more lesson from Joseph’s life. Do you remember where Pharoah found Joseph? He was in prison. Joseph was imprisoned for assaulting Potiphar’s wife. Egypt did not have a legal system like we are used to. Joseph was presumed guilty because of the words of Potiphar’s wife. Her advances to him were not new but Joseph never exposed her deeds to Potiphar, not even when she accused him of trying to rape her. So, Joseph sat in prison for something he did not do.

Joseph could have been bitter and indeed, I am sure there were days when he doubted the dreams God gave him. He persisted though, and he gave what he had to give. When the baker and the cup bearer had dreams, he interpreted them for them. Joseph told them that it is God who reveals dreams. He did not take any credit for the gift at operation within him. He did ask a favor though. The cup bearer was going to be restored to Pharoah’s service. Joseph asked the man to remember him when he was again in good graces and to help him get released. Unfortunately, the cup bearer’s gratitude did not remain, and he promptly forgot both Joseph and the grace God had shown him.

Hold on though, for the next thing that happened is that Pharoah began to have dreams. Pharoah called for all the wise men in the kingdom, but none could interpret his dreams. Then, the cup bearer remembered Joseph. So, Joseph was taken from the prison to stand before Pharoah. From there, Joseph was elevated to the second most powerful person in Egypt second only to Pharoah.

The point of the story is that Joseph always gave what he had. He knew he was wrongfully imprisoned, that his brothers had done him wrong and that he had only tried to serve Potiphar to the fullest extent of his abilities. He thought he was always doing the right thing but he suffered multiple injustices. He might have become so bitter that he no longer trusted God nor used his Godly gifts to bless others. Had he not agreed to interpret the dream of the cup bearer, there would have been no one to testify about his gift to Pharoah.

The moral is, regardless of the fairness of your circumstance, always give what God has bestowed upon you. Service should be its own reward. I know how hard that is, especially when you are not being treated fairly. Just give as if you are giving to God and do not let God’s promises escape you. Sometimes the vision does not manifest quickly but, hang on. Jacob never thought to see his son again, but he did. God isn’t through with you. Keep believing in the vision, the dream, the Word and always give what you have to give so that it may produce a crop.

The Blessing at Work

Genesis 39: 4 – 5

Joseph naturally became quite a favorite with him. Potiphar soon put Joseph in charge of his entire household and entrusted him with all his business dealings. From the day Joseph was put in charge the Lord began to bless Potiphar for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs began to run smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.

We saw, yesterday, how the blessing, which was on Joseph, prospered Potiphar. In fact, that blessing saved Egypt through the famine and eventually Joseph’s family in Canaan. The same story plays out in Jacob’s service to his uncle, Laban. Laban’s household prospered because the blessing was on Jacob (Genesis 30: 27). Laban’s flocks and herds increased because the blessing of God was on Jacob who served Laban.

The same thing is happening today. Businesses, even ungodly businesses, are enjoying growth and blessing because of one employee whose life is dedicated to God. You may be that worker. Maybe you wonder why you are stuck in a place that isn’t very godly. The answer may well be that you are Joseph. But for you, the business would suffer and perhaps even fail.

Everywhere you go, the blessing follows you and you should expect it to. Wherever you work should prosper just because you are there. If you are suffering where you are, pray to the Lord, but instead of asking him to remove you, ask Him what you can do to be a blessing. Ask Him if you are in the right place. If the answer is yes, then serve that business as if you work for the Lord, because you do. Joseph certainly spent some unpleasant days but, in the end, he reigned in Egypt. Only Pharoah had more influence than he. Keep your eyes on the Lord and let the blessing do its work.

The Blessing Works

Genesis 39: 2 – 3

The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

This passage is astounding because Potiphar not only noticed the blessing on Joseph, but he also knew to ascribe the prosperity and success to the Lord, our God. Here we have a heathen Egyptian. They didn’t worship Yahweh or even know Him and yet when Joseph came to his household, Potiphar recognized that the God of the Hebrews was blessing his household.

I have had a couple of friends over the years that I have tried to help share in the blessing. These two, in particular, would see the blessing on my life. One of them consistently called me lucky. I’m not lucky. I’m blessed. There is a big difference. The other one saw things happening for me often. At the same time, the same kind of matter would not work out for her. I, of course, gave God the glory, but there were many times I thought, “Can’t she see how this walk with Jesus is fruitful? Can’t she see how living with him is a blessing?” I thought for sure the blessings in my life were such a big testimony that she would dedicate her life to the Lord too. It never happened though. The funny thing is, she confessed herself as a Christian. The truth is, she is what I call a “cultural Christian.” That’s a person who follows the forms, but the truth of the gospel doesn’t quite reach down to the heart. She went to church regularly, even volunteered there, but the gospel never had a transformative impact on her life because she never honestly embraced the Word or the Lord. It’s sad to me.

I wish that people would see the great things God is doing in our lives and let it testify to their hearts that there is a better way. I don’t know what they fear or if people are just lazy. It is hard to be in my position and understand what prevents a person from drawing closer to God. I know we are distracted but we are also self-serving, and I expect that to motivate them.

You and I will continue to seek the face of God and live in this blessing. We will continue to give God the glory for all the great things He is doing. Sooner or later, it’s bound to sink in. Even if people don’t follow, they will not be able to legitimately deny the greatness of our God.

Rooted

Ephesians 3: 17

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.

This verse is the very thrust of this ministry. Our slogan is “Intertwined with Jesus.” I pray for you to be so interwoven in the fabric of Jesus and of God’s love that you can no longer discern a separation between you. Your thoughts are His thoughts, His are yours. I pray for His heartbeat to throb in all of our chests.

Truly, today’s Word of the Day is a thematic continuation of yesterday’s. Seek God so that He may be found and when you continue to seek Him, daily, you become more and more intertwined with Him. Finding Yahweh is not a one-time thing. It is daily pressing in and demanding more and more of Him. Never be satisfied. Always ask for more of Him. That is what He wants of you. He wants you to live in Him and to allow Him to live in you.

All the little things of the day are part and parcel of the life lived in Christ. I know some people think it is funny that I pray when I grocery shop, pump gas or ride my bike, but that is where life happens. So, if God is to be intimately intertwined in all of life, then He will be at the board meetings and the dinner table. He helps with the laundry and the cleansing of our souls.

I pray that the tendrils of your heart will become inextricably intertwined with Jesus and will, indeed, root themselves in the rich soil of God’s love.