Grief and Worship

Journal Entry // December 7, 2022

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. (ESV)

Job 1:20

In this chapter of Job, we see the response of Job to the trials and sufferings brought upon him. The enemy was given permission to assault all that Job possessed and cared about in this world. So the enemy was ruthless and relentless in fulfilling this desire to strike down everything that was near and dear to Job. The enemy had Job’s livestock slaughtered along with the servants assigned to care for them. Then not being satisfied with this, the enemy set upon Job’s children and took their lives as well.  Job receives all of this news within a short span of time and we are told of his response in verse 20. His response to all of this grief, violence, and loss of life that was reported to him was to express his grief through worship. Job chose to grieve the loss that was reported to him but he did so through a humble and reserved trust in the goodness of God. He acknowledged that it is the Lord’s right to give and take away as he determines and he deserves only blessing and honor. The Lord tells us that in this response Job held fast to his integrity.

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Unreasoning Animals

Journal Entry // December 4, 2022

But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. (ESV)

Jude 10

This passage in Jude always catches my attention when it comes along in my yearly reading plan. I say that, because I don’t remember hearing any preaching/teaching on this passage or the letter of Jude very often. Even though this letter is only 25 verses there is a lot of helpful and challenging rebukes and exhortations. This one in verse 10 always makes me stop and contemplate how I, like the ungodly, am behaving and living as an unreasoning animal. It’s a vivid picture of a life based on basic instincts and feelings flowing out of a heart that is devoid of understanding the truth of God’s word. A life that blasphemes, belittles, or marginalizes the truth of God’s word and commandments. Like a wild animal, the person Jude is describing lives their life based solely on their feelings and their own understanding.  They may even have a basic knowledge of God’s word that shapes their own personal level of morality, but it is not rooted and informed by the gospel. It is processed and filtered through their own instinctual and emotional internal systems that distort God’s truth into their own individual personal version of truth and morality. Seemingly living their life as their own master and god.

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Jealous Pride

Journal Entry // December 2, 2022

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. (ESV)

Esther 1:12

Reading the beginning of the story of Esther, we see the actions of king Ahasuerus set the stage for the focus of what is to come in the story and how this one incident leads to a sweeping change throughout the king’s land that brings pain, suffering, and death. It all begins with a small statement by the author that the king’s heart was merry with wine. I don’t know if it means he was drunk or just that he had lost some of his inhibitions through drinking. Whatever mental and physical state he was in, he decided to make his wife, the queen, an object for the viewing pleasure of his guests. There is this sense that the king wanted these men to be jealous of his beautiful queen as they lusted after her in front of him. So when the queen refuses, the king is moved from a place of superiority to these princes to one of embarrassment. And in his embarrassment, he becomes enraged with a burning anger. An anger fueled by the loss of his inhibitions and the rationality of a sober mind.

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Watch Yourself

Journal Entry // November 30, 2022

Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. (ESV)

2 John 8

In this world filled with so many distractions and deceivers, it is imperative that every believer take responsibility to watch themselves. It is the way of the world to lull the believer to sleep by turning their focus from the ever-present abiding Spirit of God to the fears, anxiety, and concerns of this mortal life. The voices of the world are many and these voices are all intent on damaging and bringing harm to the people of the Way. So as believers and followers of Christ, we are called to watch ourselves. We are called to be vigilant in the guarding of our heart and the perseverance of our faith. Any lapse… Any gap… Any breach in our hedge of protection against the evil one will be exploited. Our enemy seeks to kill and destroy all who align themselves with Christ. So, we prepare ourselves and we stand firm and ready for the onslaught of our enemy through the world and the flesh. We stand firm in the teachings of Jesus and the new heart he has given us. Remembering that the Spirit abides within us and is always empowering us with the love of Christ. Remembering that Jesus is in heaven praying for us constantly. Remembering that our heavenly Father loves us as little children and he cares for us more than we could ever imagine.

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Confident Prayers

Journal Entry // November 25, 2022

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (ESV)

1 John 5:14

Confidence… toward God. John tells us that he is writing these things about the surety of our salvation and the promises of God that we may have a bold confidence toward our great God and Redeemer. We have this confidence toward God in that he has assured us of the testimony of his Son, Jesus. He has assured us that Jesus is in fact the one and only true Son of God who took upon himself all of my sin and paid for it on the cross at the cost of his blood. I can draw this confidence from the shed blood of Christ for me. My confidence rests in the finished work of Jesus, knowing that my salvation is secure.

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First Loved

Journal Entry // November 24, 2022

We love because he first loved us. (ESV)

1 John 4:19

The foundation of all that I truly am is found in these seven words. Because Jesus loves me, I can love others. Because Jesus loves me, I can love Him. The implication from these seven words is that without Him first loving me, I am unable to love Jesus or others. My heart was initially dead and hard as stone; unable to truly love anyone other than myself. But God changed all of that with the perfect satisfying love of Jesus. Jesus chose to love me. He chose to love me not because of what I had done or what I would one day do. No, despite my hard and stubborn heart toward his righteous law and commandments, Jesus laid his full attention on me and chose to let the object of his love be directed upon me. A rebellious sinner. He first loved me.

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Love in Truth

Journal Entry // November 23, 2022

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (ESV)

1 John 3:18

What is the indicator that love permeates my heart? Is it the words that I speak or the actions I exhibit? I think that both are important to truly having love for your brothers and your neighbors. It is important to speak and talk to everyone in a loving way. It is also important to demonstrate my professed love with action and deeds. It is not enough to give verbal ascent to loving someone. It is minimalistic to only give words of love as we converse. I need to let love so permeate my heart that I demonstrate my profession with action. That I love both in my speech and in my deeds. This is the outworking and overflow of the love of Christ in me.

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Nearsighted Blindness

Journal Entry // November 19, 2022

For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (ESV)

2 Peter 1:9

The qualities that should supplement our faith that Peter is referring to in this passage are virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These are the qualities that every believer should see being manifest in their life. These qualities should be present and growing in an ever-increasing abundance. They are the status indicators of our heart and soul that reveal to us our inner motivation and desires. They are important insights that need to be carefully reviewed and understood. For if we are lacking in these qualities and our faith is not being worked out and demonstrated with the fruit of these qualities, then we are blind. Blind to the truth of the gospel. Blind to the cleansing and washing away of our sin by the precious blood of Christ.

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Meekness of Wisdom

Journal Entry // November 16, 2022

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (ESV)

James 3:13

We all want wisdom. We all want and desire to be wise and have an understanding of the way of the world to make good and proper decisions. What most of us do not have is the meekness and humility of wisdom. We want wisdom because we see that it is necessary to attain the desires of our heart and for us to have power and glory in this world. We want wisdom to enhance our own selfish ambition, pride, and arrogance. James here is telling us that this is not the way of true wisdom that is found only in God. True wisdom does not puff up but brings low. The wisdom of Christ brings meekness and humility as it reveals the weakness and inability of our flesh to do any good. True wisdom from the Father enlightens our heart to our inability and our great need for a Savior, namely Jesus. This is wisdom.

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True Satisfaction

All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 ESV

Journal Entry // June 7, 2021

Satisfaction… How is it that my toiling and striving and labor results in dissatisfaction? This statement and discussion by the Preacher is entirely spot on with how I have felt about my life over the last many years. I have had this insatiable desire prevalent in my every moment that will not allow me to enjoy the good things of this life. There has been a continual unhappiness with my present state at every point of life.

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