Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Shocking discovery!!!

A brief interlude from Job, here.  Something hit me so hard I have to share it with whoever stumbles on this blog.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

That is the first verse most of us memorized after coming to Christ.  A verse we've heard gazillions of times about the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

But I read it two days ago and discovered, to my great surprise and wonderment, that the verse really isn't about Jesus all that much.

It's more about the Father.

I was stunned.  I've read/heard sermons preached on this verse for 41 years and never has it occurred to me that that verse had anything to do with the Father.

I'd heard it so often I just didn't hear it anymore.

It pierced my heart and I immediately repented of the tiny role I gave the Father in all of this, putting Jesus alone at the center.  Actually, they are in it together, but the role I had assigned to God in my mind was because He is so seldom mentioned.  I mean, He is so often maligned as the "God of the Old Testament" - the one that kills whole cities and wipes out everyone in judgement. What we fail to consider is that those population were given hundreds of years to repent.

God is merciful and compassionate, but there is a line beyond which He will not go.  That line is drawn clearly in the sand - and when you defiantly refuse to change, you will be punished.  Why the women and the children, you say.  They are included because of the deep need for revenge in those cultures.  If the women and children were only enslaved, they would hate the people who took their homes and fathers/husbands/brothers away, and the moms would never let the kids forget it, instilling a rabid hatred of Israel in the little ones until they grow up deaf to all reason, raised on vitriolic hatred - as we see happening today in Israel. God wanted to spare His people the influences of their gods and the degradation and idolatry of their worship, which often included sex with the temple prostitutes as part of the whole thing.

We forget that He is also the God of "hesed", often translated as "lovingkindness" or "mercy" or "favor"  It implies a great tenderness akin to the love of (of course!) a father.

It was the Father's great love for the world He had created that moved Him to give His most beloved and precious treasure - His only begotten Son, to save all of us whosoevers.

I was so overwhelmed with my neglect of His glory that I picked up the Touch Bible embedded with the Strong's Concordance ($0.99 from Amazon) and went thru the verse, word by word.  I share the results here. When the definition is in quotes it is directly from Strongs.  Not in quotes means I chose the definitions to share when there were 15 or 30 definitions.  And the surmising done is my own.  So I invite you to join me and learn another facet of the Father's amazing Personhood.

"For".  It's such a small word but has a lot of meaning: Properly assigning a REASON (used in argument, explanation or intensification), because, indeed, no doubt, seeing then, therefore, verily, why. 

"God" means the Godhead,Trinity, God the Father, the first person in the Trinity, Christ the second person in the trinity, and the Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity, spoken of the only and true God...His counsels, interests, things due to Him.

I don't know about you, and I am deeply ashamed to admit this, but I don't think I have ever truly thought of the Father's counsels, interests, and things due to Him.  What a spoiled self-centered child, who never even tries to think about the things her Papa is interested in, the things that bring Him joy, that He loves to do.  Ever.

It was about this time that I broke down in tears and begged His forgiveness for being so blase' about His Person. Two words and I am undone before Him!

"So" another one of those dynamite tiny words: "in this way, on this fashion, in like manner." 

"Loved": regarding people it means to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.  Regarding things, it means to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing.

"The world" - here I expected "cosmos" or some such thing.  Nope.  Nothing that impersonal.  It means the base of orderly arrangement, by implication, its inhabitants, literally or figuratively, the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family,

"That" - as follows, in so much, wherefore.

"He gave" - deliver up, suffer, yield, to give what is due, obligatory.

"His" - mine own.

"Only begotten" My only child.

"Son" - immediate kinship of male child.

"That" see above definition.

"whosoever" - individually, each, every, any, the whole, every person.

"Believed" - "to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to entrust, commit to, put your trust in".

"In Him" - referring in third person to that individual.

"should not" - a particle of qualified negation, once qualification has been met, expresses absolute denial, God forbid, never, no way.

"Perish" - destroy, die, lose, to put out of the way entirely, render useless.

"But" - nevertheless, nay, rather, yea, moreover.

"Have" - to hold fast, to own, to possess, to hold one's self to a thing and be closely joined to it, used of a marriage. 

"Everlasting" - "perpetual, eternal, forever, without end, never ceases."

"Life" - the state of one who is possessed of vitality, or is animate, the absolute fullness of life, life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body) and to last forever.


That's a lot for one small verse.

I had always thought it was amazing, but compared to this, I had no idea.

No idea.

It is a testament to the Father's great love for His children, of His great love for Jesus.  He tore His own heart out to make ours live forever.

Putting all of this together, we get :

Properly assigning a reason, the first Person of the Trinity, the only and true God,in this way dearly loved the inhabitants of earth, the human family: He delivered up and yielded His own, His only child, His Son,   wherefore individually each and every person who puts his trust in Him qualifies to never die or be useless, moreover to own and possess perpetual never-ending vitality, the absolute fullness of life, life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed,and after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions, a more perfect body and to last forever.


It made me wonder what else I had missed.  

So I went thru the gospels to find out how many times the Father was mentioned that I also did not see.

Another shake-me-to-my-soul moment. 

The gospel of Matthew mentions the Father 41 times (!!)

Mark 6 times, which is about what I expected for all four gospels.

Luke 14 times.

In the gospel of John, the beloved disciple, I expected him to focus on Jesus more, so didn't think the Father would be mentioned often.

John mentioned the Father 96 times.

I was struck by this view of salvation.  The whole shebang is centered in the Father - He instigated it, planned it, and His Son agreed to it.  Suddenly I was alert to how Jesus spoke of the Father, how He always said He did only what His Father did, how He learned obedience by what He suffered, how when the moment came, He pleaded for a change of plans - but set His face like flint to be obedient to His glorious and loving Father.

How hard it must have been for that Father to withdraw Himself from His only Son! To watch the pain, the indignity, the incredible suffering of His Son to the point where He had to turn away - my sin did that.

When Jesus said that everything had to happen as prophesied, but woe to the person thru which the evil had to come, it took on new meaning.  I can't imagine facing an all-powerful God when you just betrayed/whipped/mocked/convicted/crucified His Son.

Woe indeed.

Looking thru the Word I saw time after time where Jesus refocused the teaching on the Father, the Father's love, the Father's desire to heal, to draw His creation back to Himself.  

And then the final bombshell of my quiet time:

Matthew 10:20  speaking of the end times when we are not to try to figure out what to say in court:

"For it is not you that speaks, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks through you."

I never, ever saw that before.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father.

It is the Father's Spirit that is our Comforter, that teaches us all things, that comes along side of us in our pain, that strengthens us and enables us to endure.

When I think of being chosen from the foundation of the world, I think of Jesus.

Or did.

Matthew 25:34 actually says, "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"

How could I have missed You, Father?

But I'm not alone.  All thru the gospels Jesus over and over tells his disciples that He is doing the Father's will, working as His Father works, doing only what the Father does, being obedient to the Father.  How exasperated Jesus must have been when Philip asks, that last teaching time, to see the Father and then he'd be satisfied! Jesus replies from John 14:8 onward:

"Have I been so long a time with you, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father - and how do you say, then, 'Show us the Father?'"

The obedience of Jesus really shines through as He repeatedly gives the glory and the instigation of His miracles to the Father.  Always He seeks to give glory to His Father, to emphasize the Father's careful planning, revealed in the prophecies over hundreds of years. Always He tries to redirect people to His Father.

All of which I never saw before.

41 years of blindness.

Thank You, Papa.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The (Im)patience of Job

Over the next few weeks I want to share what I learned in my recent reading in the book of Job.  Using the Touch Bible with Strong's Concordance I looked up almost every word in the book and learned a lot.

Job is a favored book to many of us CIs.  His unremitting exposure to trials seems to resonate with us for some reason.  And going word-by-word through the book taught me a lot about why it does.  Unfortunately, I don't get online to post every single day.  Sometimes it is a week or two or more between posts.  I'll try to do it more often, but I can't promise.  And there is a lot to cover!

The first word I clicked on was his name.  I never knew that the name "Job" means "hated."

Who would name their child "hated?"

I can't imagine what life must have been like growing up with that name.  Perhaps his rejection by being named "hated" is the reason he was such a loving father to his 7 sons and his daughters.  He would have first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be devalued - to have one or both parents not caring what happens to you, or actually wishing you ill.  It seems from his attitude, though, that that life sent him into the arms of God - that he found comfort and love there.

Time-wise, Job was a contemporary of Abraham.  The law hadn't been given yet, but Job has a highly developed understanding that sin needed to be covered with a blood sacrifice.  He is in Uz, which was a city somewhere in the Arabian desert.  And he tried so diligently to live a life pleasing to God that the Word describes him as "...perfect and upright..."

"Perfect" here means "one who lacks nothing in physical strength, beauty etc, sound, wholesome, an ordinary, quiet sort of person, complete, morally innocent, having integrity, morally and ethically pure."


And "upright" means "straight, pleasing, correct, fitting, proper."

What an amazing man!  His name and treatment caused no bitterness, no anger against God, just a desire to please Him and an impetus towards diligence.

The Word goes on to say "...and that feared God and eschewed evil."  "Eschewed" means "to turn off, turn aside from, depart, remove, take away, put aside, leave undone, retract, reject, abolish."  To eschew evil would mean that he was tempted towards it, but turned away and "left it undone."

So he is a man of great character and moral strength living, as Moses was described - choosing God rather than the pleasures of sin for a season.  And that's just the first verse!!

In verse 2 we are told that he has seven sons.  Seven besides the number, means "the sacred, full one."  So having seven sons to love and nurture was satisfying to Job's heart, filled up the emptiness he had growing up.

And the kids evidently were full of love for each other, getting together often for a feast. The Word mentions specifically that the sisters were included - noteworthy in a patriarchal society where women could easily be undervalued.  Not Job's sons!  They had obviously been raised to treasure family and each other.

Even so, verse 5 tells us that even tho they were grown, Job never stopped wanting to protect them, and sacrificed daily on their behalf, just in case " may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts."  "Sin" means "miss the mark" and also "miss oneself, lose oneself, wander from the way."  "Cursed" is a euphemism for "blaspheme."  The word originally meant "to kneel before (adore), to bless, praise, salute".  Interesting how satan corrupts even words, isn't it?

Ah yes, here comes the evil one, twisting and casting aspersions. In verse 9 we are told he comes before God with the other "sons of God", the angels, and instead of worshipping he accuses.  Twisting facts as he did in Eden, he starts in on Job. "Doth Job fear God for nought?" his questions always denigrate God's character.  Always. When a doubt enters my mind - "Can I really trust God to do that?"  - it bears within it the breath of hell, the sure mark of the evil one.

OR the question accuses God's child - that's why Romans 12:10 calls him "the accuser of the brethren", as we see in verse 10:
"Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all he has on every side?"  I can just hear his frustration - oh how he longs to afflict God's beloved! "You have blessed the work of his hands and his substance is increased in the land."  "Substance" means "cattle, livestock, herds."

verse 11: "BUT...(here it comes, the accusation of the brethren) put forth Thine hand now and touch all that he has (note that satan would not be satisfied if God touched one thing - nope, satan wants God to touch all that he has - he will not be content with anything less than a catastrophic action against Job) and he will (not "doubt" not "wonder" not "feel crushed" but) curse Thee to Thy face."  satan doesn't just say "curse You" but adds on all the defamation he thinks he can get away with: " Thy face."  In other words, "he will throw away everything good he has learned about You, and hate You so much he will shake his fist and spit in Your face!"

So God says, "Oh yeah?" (my translation) "OK.  You got it."  verse 11: "Behold, all he has is in your power...(note that satan's power is greatly limited; he can touch ONLY what he is specifically allowed to touch, NOTHING more) ...only upon himself keep your fingers to yourself (my translation)"

So satan ran from God's presence chuckling to himself: "Oh, He fell for that one!  c'mon boys, we got some nasty stuff to plan!" (my translation)

And that's where we will leave off for this installment.

Hope you are getting blessed!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The fingerprints of God

The book of Esther was on my mind today.  This is what I got from it - all extra-biblical comments are my own.

For those of you new to the Word, it's a book about yet another madman wanting to annihilate the Jews.

In every generation someone gets the same idea (hmmmm; who could be behind that?  It just reeks of brimstone, doesn't it?)  In our day anti-Semitism seems to be popping up all over.  The evil one hates the fact that Redemption came through the Jewish people.  HATES it.  And continuously tries to make them pay.

Anyway, in the Book of Esther, Hamaan is the villain.  He is wealthy and presumably healthy, but wisdom is far from him.

He is also very prideful.  When he gets the king to decree people should fall down before him and, in essence, worship him, one man doesn't .

He is a Jew.

Of course.

"I am the LORD thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me" is enthroned in the heart of Mordecai, and he will not bow to another.  Not physically.  Not mentally.  And certainly not spiritually.  It makes me wonder where all the other Jews are.  It seems fear induced all the other Jews in Shushan to submit.

Anyway, Esther is a remarkable book - remarkable because it is the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention God - not once - even though His fingerprints are all over it.

Hamaan, inch by inch, worms himself into the king's confidence - so much so that the king gives him, essentially, the keys to the kingdom - in this case, his signet ring, with which every royal decree must be signed.  And Hamaan uses it.

Besides his "worship me" decree, he asks the king if he can get rid of a group of ne'er do well folk in his kingdom that nobody likes anyway.  And he offers to pay a substantial sum to replace any possible loss of income to the kingdom.  Note, however: he does not actually name the people and, because he has the king's trust, the king doesn't ask.

Now, in secular history, from Herodotus, we learn that the king has just fought a costly war against Greece that he lost  - at Thermopolae and Salamis- hence, the kingly coffers are low.  And the good king loves luxury and showing it off.  He ruled from India to Ethiopia and gave a party that lasted for 6 months (!) for all the princes and dignitaries and servants of his vast empire.  They ate lying down, on couches of silver and gold, and the flloors of his dining hall were paved in red, blue, white and black squares of marble, with hangings of linen and purple velvet hung by silver rings from marble pillars. The amount of money that must have cost staggers the mind.  His expensive failure of a war came just after the party, so after a war that had done nothing but drain the royal treasury, money sounded good.  (The loss of income and taxes to his kingdom would have far surpassed even the large amount Hamaan dangled in front of the king, but Hamaan wisely concealed the details - and the king didn't ask.)

Hamaan's pride was so important to him that because of one man refusing to worship him, he wanted to wipe out every one of not only his family but of his people.


When Esther invites only the king and Hamaan to her dinner, his buttons pop off his chest. Not only does the king dote on him, his queen evidently does, too!  He must have thought he was pretty hot stuff - invincible.


That dang Mordecai was the fly in the ointment.  And he still had several months to go according to the time indicated by the dice he rolled to determine the most auspicious date (God's fingerprints) before the Great Annihilation.  How would he ever stand to wait that long?

So in the midst of bragging to everyone he could brag to, he voices his discontent.

Now we see the fingerprints of another place (rhymes with "bell.")

One of his "friends" suggests he nonchalantly build a gallows six stories high (75 feet or 50 cubits) and the next morning (meaning his servants had to work all night long to build it) ask the king to hang (impale) Mordecai on it (an added perk would be everyone in the city could see it and know not to mess with Hamaan!)

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversation:

" Ummm, oh kingliveforever,  there's this guy that bugs me, your favorite pal, and I'd like to eliminate him from my life - would that be ok?"

"So, do you want me to have him executed or tortured or what?"

"WOh!  That's a tough one.  Let me see...." furrowed brow, tapping chin with one finger, "Wait!  Someone built a gallows 6 stories high in my front yard last night - wouldn't that be perfect? I can use that!"

But, alas, Hamaan never gets to have that conversation.

Because during the long night while his servants built the gallows, the king couldn't sleep," either ( it would be hilarious if the reason the king couldn't sleep was the sound of all the hammering and yelling it took to build the gallows!)

Anyway, the sleepless king wanted something read to him so he could sleep (God's fingerprints again) Something boring.  Let's see....I know!  Read the chronicles of the kingdom!

And there, buried in the boring day-to-day stuff of the kingdom was this little gem: (Fingerprint) Mordecai overheard a plot to kill the king, and stopped them just in time.

"Wow!  I don't remember that!  What did we do for this loyal, trustworthy servant?"



"Nope.   Nothing.  Nada.  Zip,"

So while the king pondered this (Fingerprint,) Hamaan arrives in the court, bright-eyed and bushytailed, to ask if that loyal, trustworthy subject could be staked to his gallows.

The king is pondering, pondering, pondering and can't come up with anything big enough to reward Mordecaih

"Is anybody in the court this early?" he asks. (Fingerprint)

Sure enough, Hamaan is - and the king brings him in to ask him what he thinks.

Hamaaan's pride flares like a match tossed on gasoline. "Who else but me could he possibly be thinking of," pops into his mind and honors galore parade themselves before him.

So he comes up with this unbelievably ego-stroking experience, paraded through the city so everyone would realize how important he is!

Oooooh! Maybe he could even ask the king to make Mordecai do it before he hangs him! Perfect!

Only it's not for him.  (Fingerprint!)

It's for (cough gag barf) Mordecai, his arch enemy (not really, but Hamaan has been chewing on this a loooong time.  To him, Mordecai is the enemy.)

So Mordecai rides thru town, his donkey (considered a royal steed - appropriate, no?) being led by the guy who has been seething about him and plotting against him and talking him down and  the whole city knows it. I'll bet more than one person had to turn away to laugh at the mighty Hamaan.

What a blow to his pride!  He covers his head (a sign of mourning) and runs home to tell his cronies what that rat Mordecai did to him today (never mind it was his own doing!)

At this point, I thought, Who else but God could have come up with such a precise hit?  So I said to God, "Good job, LORD!"

Immediately He came back with "I know" - with the intonation a guy uses when they're smirking about something wonderful they did.

I laughed out loud

Then Hamaan has to get ready for the dinner with the queen - his humiliation fresh in his mind.  His ego badly needs this honor.


instead, things go from bad to worse.  When Esther (the king's favorite) reveals she will be executed, too, because of none other than Hamaan, the king is so furious he gets up and marches out to the garden to cool off a bit.  Meanwhile, Hamaan is so terrified he falls down on his knees onto the couch Esther is on to plead for his life.  To the king, it looks like he's gotten so bold he's trying to make out with the queen -  or worse - while his back is turned.

Hamaan is done for.

Meditating on this later, I realize the servants have all been carefully watching Hamaan get his. They've seen Hamaan puff himself up and, as folks with that mindset often do, I suspect he treated the servants as being so worthless that they were only alive to do his will, nothing more.  I don't think he treated them well.

Why do I think that?

When the king comes back from the garden, they already have an executioner's hood ready and the first thing they do is tell the king that Hamaan built an enormous gallows in his front yard last night to impale the very one who had saved the king's life!

I was still smiling about the LORD saying "I know" when He got serious with me.  He showed me that, altho with time and distance  it's sort of funny, that humiliation was an act of mercy.

This was Hamaan's wake up call.  If he had thought about it instead of taking offense and listening to the suggestion to build the gallows, he would have realized what those same friends told him after he was embarassed: now that it's started, you're going down. (my paraphrase)

He had one last chance to think about his actions, one last chance to change his ways, one chance to wonder about Mordecai and where his courage to bow only to his God came from.

One chance to see beyond the humiliation to salvation.

I sobered up quickly.

I spent the next amount of time asking Him to show me if there's something in my life that is sticking in my craw, just like Hamaan, something that is festering instead of bringing it to Him to deal with.

And there was.

Something so inconsequential I couldn't believe I wasn't dealing with it - a moment of hurt feelings, a stray word, a look.  Nothing important.  Simply ruffled feathers.

So I ended up thanking him for my own wake-up call.  And I share here the main thing I learned:

Nothing is too small to bring to God, nothing.  If something is big enough to irritate me, to hurt my feelings, to upset me, no matter how slight, I need to bring it to my Papa and deal with it head on.

Because if I ignore a tiny little crack like that, it will, over time, cause more and more "tiny little cracks" and lead to a habit, an attitude, a hyper-sensitivity that has no place in the life of a child of the King.

And that, dear friends, bears the fingerprints of God.