May 12 – When I Get Out – Resilience

Read Job 1:21b and Hebrews 12:1b

The 4 x 800 relay race is a very challenging race in the great sport of high school track. Four individuals each run 800 yards with guts and perseverance and then hand the baton off. They each run one “leg” of the race. The hand off involves an amazing amount of practice. If the baton is bobbled or dropped during any of the hand-offs, then your team will lose time.

My friend, Sierra is a senior and a runner on a local track team. She has been a runner much of her life and she’s worked hard at her skills. Her cousin, Maya is on the same track team and they both run the 4 x 800 relay race. In 2019, their relay team earned the ultimate sports thrill and qualified to the state championship in Columbus, Ohio and they ran on The Jesse Owens track. (Jesse Owens was an athlete from Ohio who experienced discrimination years ago and became the greatest athlete I’ve ever heard of. I actually shook his hand in 1976.) Although they did not win the state championship, they set the school and area record in a great performance.

As track season approached this past February and March, Sierra, Maya and their teammates were preparing for another season and hoping to not just qualify for the state finals but to win the state championship. It was a lofty but reasonable goal.

Then the pandemic arrived. School and the Track season was canceled. For the first time in the history of Ohio, the sport of Track was canceled. There would be no opportunity to run on The Jesse Owens Track.

As all these events have taken place over the last few months, I felt really bad about all the 18 year olds who missed track, baseball, softball, concerts, plays, The Prom, graduation and many other awesome parts of life. I know the work that goes into it. I’ve seen it as a high school coach and sports official. It has been somewhat heartbreaking for me to observe all of this happening. But when I talked to Sierra‘s dad, He said “this pandemic will make her more resilient in her life. This will make all these young people more resilient.”

Other losses from the pandemic include health, finances, sickness, death and more. What is gained is not visible – backbone, character, resilience…grit. Nobody likes bad experiences but that is often where there is deep growth. (James 1:2).

The challenge for followers of Jesus Christ is to be resilient like He was and never stop trusting in God even when things don’t go their way. Run the race of life with perseverance.

Think resilience!

Tom Weckesser

 

January 9 – The uncomfortable truth about trouble: God is complicit!

Read: Genesis 37:26-28 & Genesis 45:4-5Job 2:1-8II Corinthians 12:7-10I Cor. 2:7-8

This is our second day of venturing out into uncomfortable waters concerning the connection between God and trouble. Yesterday we contemplated God’s sovereign control over everything. Today’s truth is perhaps even more uncomfortable! It is that – there’s no escaping it – God is complicit in our trouble.

JOB
The best place to start is with the story of Job, the quintessential story of faith under fire. Was Satan free to strike Job at will? No, Satan had to ask permission from God, and God set boundaries on Satan’s power to harm.

joseph3

“You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good…the saving of many lives”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOSEPH
It was Joseph’s brothers who betrayed him. THEY sold him as a slave to merchants traveling to Egypt. But many years later, when his brothers came to the horrifying realization that Pharaoh’s official was none other than their little brother Joseph, Joseph said an amazing thing to them:
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

Years later he would reaffirm this conclusion to his brothers: “Don’t be afraid. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish…the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)

PAUL
God entrusted Paul with direct revelation and knowledge unlike any other man outside of Jesus. So to keep him from becoming proud, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh,” also called in the same verse “a messenger of Satan.” (II Corinthians 12:7)

JESUS
And the most beautiful gift ever given, our salvation, which brings us richness and joy every day, is the result of the most horrific suffering and vile crime ever committed, when Satan struck Jesus on the cross. (I Corinthians 2:7-8)

While there are aspects of the mystery not to be grasped this side of Heaven, what is abundantly clear is that the forces of Heaven (good) and Hell (evil) come together in pain. Trouble is where these opposite forces meet to work for entirely opposite ends: God to lift, bless and strengthen; Satan to bring down, kill and destroy.

Who wins? That, my friends, depends on us. Better or bitter. Which will it be?

THOUGHT TO PONDER: Does knowing that God and Satan meet together in trouble influence how we view it? How?

Barb Wooler

What do you think? Please leave a comment!

January 6 – Crucible of Crisis – The “why” and “what” behind suffering

Read: Romans 8:28Job 1:6-8

The WHYs in life are tricky, and this is never truer than when it comes to WHY God allows a trial.

Maybe it’s to move someone geographically – “Their house burned down because God wants them to move to Texas near their son.”

Or is it to change someone’s heart? – “God is teaching that person not to be arrogant.”

Maybe it’s to change someone’s mind? – “He got fired so he’ll stop refusing God’s call to ministry.”

whyWhen it comes to the WHYs behind trials and crises, filling in the ocean-wide gaps between our knowledge and God’s is sketchy at best and dangerous at worst. Too often we get it all wrong, which can just make it harder for the person in crisis.

JUDGING
Of course, proof text Numero Uno of this is Job’s experience. Job’s comforters thought for sure they knew why he was suffering so: it was because of secret sin in his life. But the truth was just the opposite, wasn’t it? Indeed, when God looked over the earth for the most upright man of all, His eyes settled on Job! God was confident Job’s faith would withstand the worst Satan could throw at him.  Job’s comforters’ speculation led them to a conclusion exactly opposite from the truth.

COLLATERAL EFFECTS
Sometimes a trial touches us, but the real target is someone else. For example: An unsaved nurse needs to meet you, so you land in the hospital. Or your insurance man is struggling with suicidal thoughts and needs hope; of course the natural connection between you and your insurance man is a claim. Ouch!

If there’s any validity to the theory of “Six Degrees of Separation” – the belief that every person on the planet is six or less people away from all others – that leaves a great possibility of someone being impacted by a crisis primarily intended for someone else.

Though the WHYs of trouble are often too sketchy for conjecture, we can at least be confident about the most important thing: the WHAT of hardship – that God is wringing every possible ounce of good out of trails touching those who love Him.

THOUGHT TO PONDER: Can you trust your loving Heavenly Father to bring good out of hardship?

Barb Wooler

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Find out about Encompass’ new Crisis Response Network  (4 min video).

February 27 – Transformation Testimonies – Job

Read Job 2:1-13 & 38:1-41

Probably one of the hardest things to do in our culture today is to find the good in the bad of situations. More often than not, when hard times come our way, we shell up and shy away from anything that could worsen our situation. However, one of the first thoughts that enters our minds is that of, “Why would God allow this to happen? If He really loves us, why is this happening? What good could possibly come out of this?” When you get to the point that you don’t think anything worse could happen, read the story of Job.

The book of Job opens by telling the reader who Job was by what he had. He was definitely a man who was blessed in many ways: money, reputation, family, etc. It informs us that Satan comes to Jesus questioning the devotion of God’s people. God goes on to tell the character of Job and how he is “a faithful servant”. Satan then asks to test him, and, surprisingly, we see that God grants permission.

The subsequent chapter talks about how all of Job’s possessions, livelihood, and home were successively taken from him. Yet, in the midst of it all, Job remained true to God’s word and continued to devote himself to the Lord. As he tries to make sense of everything, Job consistently praises the Lord. We begin to know some outside voices, Job’s friends, learning their own interpretations of the problem that Job is facing and how it can be fixed.

After all of this discussion, we get to Chapter 38 where God speaks simply majestically. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements…Who enclosed the sea with doors?” God, returning to the conversation, stands firm in the Truth that Job and all of the outside voices are unqualified to offer an explanation because God is the Creator of all.

Just like Job’s life, God has a plan for your life, even in the times that we see as “bad” or do not understand. When the worst takes place in your life, change your perspective to remember the character of God and praise Him in the midst, as Job did.

I challenge you to ask yourself, “What good is God trying to form out of my difficult circumstances?” and counter the “bad” with His good!

Jake Lawson

January 10 – Satan Attacks

Read Job 1:1-22

Sometimes conversations about you take place when you are not there.  We call it “talking behind your back,” and we typically don’t appreciate it when we know that it happens.  But that is the problem.  We don’t always know when it happens.

Job sure didn’t!  While he was enjoying a life richly blessed with livestock, possessions, and family, others were talking about him.  The “others” in this instance were not the neighbors in the house next door who were jealous of all he had.  No, these talkers were none other than the God of heaven and His adversary, Satan.  And their location was heaven itself.  (Sidebar #1:  Even though Satan currently has access to heaven as the “accuser of the brothers,” no worries, God is stronger!)

So, before the calamity broke loose in Job’s life, Satan dialogued with God.  God’s premise was that Job was a godly man.  Satan countered that Job was just a spoiled son of an overprotective Father.  But God responded, saying that Job was no wimp.  He could withstand the best that Satan could deliver.  While God gave Satan permission to attack Job, He also defined the limitations.  (Sidebar #2:  God has your back!  He boasts about, strengthens, and protects His children, even when they go through hard times!)

Suddenly, without knowledge of that conversation, Job’s blessed life was turned upside down!  On that day, people approached, each telling an “I’m the only one left” tale of tragedy.  Each messenger brought devastating news that was the result of this unheard conversation in heaven.  Each message was enough to cause a lesser man to crumble.

Not Job!

While others might have cursed God, he chose to bless Jehovah.  Though Job knew nothing about the heavenly conversation, he did understand something about stewardship.  In spite of the circumstances he experienced, he was still able to worship the One who had every right to give and to take away.  (Sidebar #3:  If your greatest prize is the Giver of the gifts rather than His gifts themselves, you can praise Him in the face of catastrophe.)

Yes, Satan sometimes has permission to attack you, but you don’t have to jettison your confidence in God!

sbk

October 21 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Job

Read Job 42:1-17

In the spirit of the new sermon series on prayer starting today at Grace Church, we will be looking at 35 prayers in the Bible over the next 5 weeks. Our writers will share with you these prayers, the context in which they were prayed and encouraging words coming out of them for all of us.

Allow me to share a prayer from one of my favorite books of the Bible.

If you’re looking for the reason why bad things happen to good people and what it’s like to have your world turned completely upside down, take the time to read the book of Job.

Spark-notes summary of Job: He was a super wealthy guy who God gave into the hands of Satan because God knew that Job was a faithful servant of his and would never curse Him because of his circumstances.

As you can probably imagine, Satan wrecked Job’s world.

His house? Gone. Family? Gone. Cattle? Wealth? Gone. Health? Gone. The vast majority of the book is Job’s friends telling him why they think this happened to him. Some of their opinions may make sense but most of them are way out there. One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes in Job 38. I HIGHLY recommend that you read that chapter and see how God comes onto the scene. “Where were you?” Just incredible…

In the last chapter of the book, we read a closing prayer of Job to God. At the end of the day, no matter how bad things got for Job and no matter what false facts his friends told him, he never cursed God. We read a prayer of thanks and confession. Even though he didn’t fully understand what was going on, he trusted in God’s plan for him. As we see at the end of the chapter, because of Job’s faithfulness, God restored Job’s fortunes twofold of what we started the book with.

All of us have and will go through horrible experiences in life. You may find yourself crying out with every ounce of strength, “GOD! WHY?!” It is so much easier said than done to trust God in the midst of trials, but the story of Job proves that He will reward the faithful. Also, when you are going through a storm, surround yourself with the right people; people who will listen to you and point you back to Christ. James 1 tells us that trials in life are to make us stronger. When we rely on God, who will never forsake us, there is nothing in our life that will destroy us. He is faithful. He is just. He is merciful. He loves you. He died for you. He wants the best for you. There are many people that truly love you and want to see you succeed.

Never forget that.

Jake Lawson

 

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 1: Praise Him!

Praise is necessary. We were built for it. Being created in His image, we have been uniquely wired to praise God. But for praise to be praise, it has to be expressed. It has to make its way to our hearts past our lips.

Read or shout! – a verse – in Psalms out loud every day this week! Here’s a few to get you started: 96:4, 145:3, 63:3-4

July 11: Seeking Parental Wisdom

Read Job 12:12 and Proverbs 20:29

This week, we are digging a little deeper into the commandment to honor our father and mother. As you have seen and will continue to see, this commandment looks a little different depending on your stage of life.

Throughout my life, one of the dearest relationships has always been with my parents. I have told them before that if it wasn’t culturally frowned upon, I would still be living in their basement. My mom is one the most joyous, caring, loving and godly women that anyone will ever have the pleasure to know. She is a fierce prayer warrior and never shies away from telling people about how awesome Jesus is. My dad, quite simply, is my hero. Alongside Jesus, I am who I am today because of him. He is driven but caring, relentlessly pursuing perfection but sarcastic at the same time. I model my life and my manhood after my dad.

Over the last couple of years, my relationship has changed with them. I am no longer living with them, but with my wife and child. I am no longer directly under their authority; I am building and leading a family of my own. Although my relationship with them looks a little different, one thing that will forever stay the same: my willingness to seek their wisdom .

Among other passages in the Bible, Job 12:12 and Proverbs 20:29 speak to the value of seeking wisdom from those older than us. Our elders shouldn’t be people that we grow to resent, as is common in the world we live in today, but cherished allies.

We are foolish if we tell ourselves that we have it all figured out and don’t need anyone to coach us along. What if, when you moved out from your parent’s house, you still chose to heed their wisdom? This doesn’t mean that you need to blindly follow what they say because they said it. However, it is wise to listen to what they say and compare it to your own thoughts and opinions. Whether we like it or not, our parents are intelligent. They know what they’re talking about. Why not still care what they have to say?

This isn’t just something that’s a good idea, it’s a Biblical commandment. Why not give their thoughts and opinions the time of day? You may find yourself surprised!

JL

October 29: Job

Read Job 13:1-28

Have you ever been wronged by God? Perhaps you lost your job and immediately thought to yourself, “Why is this happening? God, why would you allow this to happen?!” Maybe you have gone through complications in your marriage, “God, I thought you told me this was the person for me!” Maybe even you are having health complications and you just wish that the One who the Bible calls “Healer” would make Himself present in your life.

If anyone had the right to be mad at God, it was Job. Important to the story of Job, however, was the fact that Job came to understand that it isn’t possible to be wronged by God. Through everything that he was going through, he took it upon himself to praise God.

It is insane to read all of what happened to Job. In the span of only a few moments, he lost his wealth, house, family, and his health was deteriorating. If there was ever a moment to feel bad for yourself, we could say that Job was in that position.

In the chapters that follow the tribulation, Job’s friends come together to tell him why they believe all this has happened to him. It doesn’t take much to tell they weren’t exactly hitting the nail on the head. When chapter 13 comes around, Job speaks to his friends and brings about his own perspective.

[Read Job 13:1-28]

What are some of the statements that Job says? “Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”, “Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance.” We can see the experienced pain coming through His words. Through it all, while he could have complained and cursed God, he chose to praise God.

I’m not going to pretend to know everything of what you are going through. We all have baggage that we carry around. We all struggle with sin. We all have those moments where we feel life collapsing around us. Here is a guarantee: As a follower of Christ, like may get real difficult, but it will never collapse. Just as Job voiced, we have hope in God to get us through any troubles that we face. Not only do we get through, but He is still worthy of our praise.

What are you currently going through? Does it seem to be too much to handle? In what ways can you give it up to God? How can you glorify Him in the midst of it all?

jdl

September 10: Job

Read Job 2:1-13 & 38:1-41

Probably one of the hardest things to do in our culture today is to find the good in the bad of situations. More often than not, when hard times come our way, we shell up and shy away from anything that could worsen our situation. However, one of the first thoughts that enters our minds is that of, “Why would God allow this to happen? If He really loves us, why is this happening? What good could possibly come out of this?” When you get to the point that you don’t think anything worse could happen, read the story of Job.

The book of Job opens by telling the reader who Job was by what he had. He was definitely a man who was blessed in many ways: money, reputation, family, etc. It informs us that Satan comes to Jesus questioning the devotion of God’s people. God goes on to tell the character of Job and how he is “a faithful servant”. Satan then asks to test him, and, surprising, we see that God grants permission.

The subsequent chapter talks about how all of Job’s possessions, livelihood, and home were successively taken from him. Yet, in the midst of it all, Job remained true to God’s word and continued to devote himself to the Lord. As he tries to make sense of everything, Job consistently praises the Lord. We begin to know some outside voices, Job’s friends, learning their own interpretations of the problem that Job is facing and how it can be fixed.

After all of this discussion, we get to Chapter 38 where God speaks simply majestically. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements…Who enclosed the sea with doors?” God, returning to the conversation, stands firm in the Truth that Job and all of the outside voices are unqualified to offer an explanation because God is the Creator of all.

Just like Job’s life, God has a plan for your life, even in the times that we see as “bad” or do not understand. When the worst takes place in your life, change your perspective to remember the character of God and praise Him in the midst, as Job did.

I challenge you to ask yourself, “What good is God trying to form out of my difficult circumstances?” and counter the “bad” with His good!

jdl

July 19: The Uncomfortable Truth About Trouble: God is Complicit!

Read: Genesis 37:26-28 & Genesis 45:4-5; Job 2:1-8; II Corinthians 12:7-10; I Cor. 2:7-8

This is our second day of venturing out into uncomfortable waters concerning the connection between God and trouble. Yesterday we contemplated God’s sovereign control over everything. Today’s truth is perhaps even more uncomfortable! It is that – there’s no escaping it – God is complicit in our trouble.

JOB
The best place to start is with the story of Job, the quintessential story of faith under fire. Was Satan free to strike Job at will? No, Satan had to ask permission from God, and God set boundaries on Satan’s power to harm.

joseph3

“You intended it to harm me, but God intended it for good…the saving of many lives”

JOSEPH
It was Joseph’s brothers who betrayed him. THEY sold him as a slave to merchants traveling to Egypt. But many years later, when his brothers came to the horrifying realization that Pharaoh’s official was none other than their little brother Joseph, Joseph said an amazing thing to them:
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

Years later he would reaffirm this conclusion to his brothers: “Don’t be afraid. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish…the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)

PAUL
God entrusted Paul with direct revelation and knowledge unlike any other man outside of Jesus. So to keep him from becoming proud, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh,” also called in the same verse “a messenger of Satan.” (II Corinthians 12:7)

JESUS
And the most beautiful gift ever given, our salvation, which brings us richness and joy every day, is the result of the most horrific suffering and vile crime ever committed, when Satan struck Jesus on the cross. (I Corinthians 2:7-8)

While there are aspects of the mystery not to be grasped this side of Heaven, what is abundantly clear is that the forces of Heaven (good) and Hell (evil) come together in pain. Trouble is where these opposite forces meet to work for entirely opposite ends: God to lift, bless and strengthen; Satan to bring down, kill and destroy.

Who wins? That, my friends, depends on us. Better or bitter. Which will it be?

THOUGHT TO PONDER: Does knowing that God and Satan meet together in trouble influence how we view it? How?

– barb

What do you think? Please leave a comment!