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Monday, September 26, 2011

Amish watching parachutes from wagon 9/25/11
Yesterday afternoon following our service in a nursing home we came upon this interesting sight. It first looked like the Amish were out on a genuine team-drawn wagon ride. But they were parked at the edge of a field and all were looking intently in the same direction out over the distance. Since I knew some of them I stopped to greet them and inquired. Turns out they were watching parachute jumpers at the Maytown airport!  They were sure having a great time including some good-natured horsing around. (Click on photo for a larger version to see why the boy's hat is on the ground.)

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"Lessons From Job"

"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth" (Job 19:25).

Robert Rogers was traveling down the Kansas Turnpike in September 2003 with his wife and four children when suddenly they encountered a flash flood that furiously swept away his wife and all four children. Robert's tragic loss brings to mind the story of Job. In addition to losing his family, Job lost his health, income, prestige, and the respect he had earned among the leaders and townspeople of Uz.

Job lived during the patriarchal period some 4,000 years ago. He is famous for the great suffering he endured. The book about him is long and can be hard to read but I believe it can be briefly summarized in three points:

Job with boils1) A Candid Reality: "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away." Job had experienced great blessing from God including wealth. He doesn't boast of his hard work or his wise investments, but he indicates that it is the Lord who gave him all that he enjoyed in life.  Like Job, we too thank God from whom all blessings flow.

A harder confession to make but equally true: "the Lord has taken away." The theology of suffering is hard and complex, but Job's experience teaches us that ultimately suffering is permitted by God. Satan had to seek God's permission to proceed with the affliction.

We tend to memorize promises that are positive in nature but there are also promises such as when Jesus said forthrightly, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33) or Paul's sermon in Acts 14:22 “We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.”  The candid reality is that we will face trials, although few will experience the intensity and severity of Job's! 

"Blessed Be Your Name" is a song
written by Matt Redman that has blessed many.  It's a great exclamation of praise with a lively, contagious tune. But as a Bible student I especially appreciate the Scripturally-based words.  In fact the song is prompted by the daily verse:

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

There are certainly those periods in life when we all travel "on the road marked with suffering." Sometimes there are experiences that make international news due to the immensity and sheer evil of the impact such as 9/11.  Most times they are locally felt but with no less intensity for those left to deal with the ongoing pain of such loss.

Not one of us escapes the road marked with suffering, although the severity varies with each individual and through each phase of life. Job is an example of one who suffered intensely, yet states matter of factly, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away." This is a remarkable faith statement. We have no problem theologically with a God who gives but we cringe at the notion that He also takes away.

2) A Purposeful Resolve: "Blessed be the name of the LORD." Job gives praise in the very midst of suffering. At the time Job lived, none of the written words of Scripture were available. But we have the benefit of verses like Psalm 34:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and Hebrews 13:15. Redman's song expresses the choice each of us must make to bless the Lord with a purposeful resolve, "My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name." Even when the body and mind are hesitant, may our redeemed hearts bless the One who gives and takes away.

My Redeemer Lives
3) A Living Redeemer: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth."  Job endured suffering for an unspecified time. The book chronicles the "advice" offered by his frustrated wife and confused "comforters". Throughout the nineteenth chapter Job recounts his grave afflictions. Physically, socially, financially, and spiritually; he went through an incredibly tough period.  He lost his children, possessions and health. He was covered with painful boils and could get relief only by taking a shard of pottery and scraping his wounded skin.

But in the midst of his suffering, with no end in sight, he expresses one of the great faith declarations in 19:25: "I know that my Redeemer lives."

Job states with absolute confidence that in the end God will stand.  Indeed God has always prevailed, is presently prevailing and will always prevail.  At times His ways are a supreme mystery to us, but what tremendous peace we have as we also recognize this truth.  In the end He will be standing and since we have been redeemed, we belong to Him and thus we will stand with Him.

Today, my believing friend, let me encourage you to make Job's affirmation of faith your own. What tremendous peace comes when we look beyond our personal circumstances to declare, "I know that my redeemer lives!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, from the Biblical story of Job's unequaled sufferings emerges one of the most radiant and hopeful promises that I can apply to my life, "I know that my Redeemer lives!" Though my heart and my flesh may fail, You are my strength and my portion forever. The troubles that seem larger than life itself lose their magnitude in comparison to knowing that in the end I will see You myself with my own eyes. What glorious anticipation fills my heart as Your overcoming Spirit leads me through the trials of this day, the road marked by suffering!  It is not by my might, nor by my power but by Your Spirit that I find You to be the anchor in the storms that assail me. Amen.

Birthday verse: Yesterday I alluded to Romans 8:28 in my sermon. Jonathan, who is six years old, excitedly approached me after the message and told me I had mentioned his birthday (8/28). That got me thinking. All of us have a birthday verse and this quick study revealed some "birthday verse" options for my family:

Me: (10/14) "For by a single offering He (Christ) has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).

Brooksyne: (10/21) "In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will'" (Luke 10:21).

Ester: (3/9) "So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Galatians 3:9).

Perhaps you can consider finding your own "birthday verse"!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"When Trials Come"  Video  Keith and Kristyn Getty  

"Blessed be Your Name"
 Video  Matt Redman

"I Know My Redeemer Lives"  Video  Crabb Family

"For I Know That My Redeemer Lives"  Video  Bob Bennett (classic version of Samuel Medley hymn)

Flood story

"Into the Deep"
  Robert Rogers maintained his faith through the tragedy and now ministers to others.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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