My Mentor Job

A friend of mine at “A Mike For Christ” recently asked a question that took me a while to answer. He asked, “Who in the Scriptures besides Jesus teaches you much, whether about God, spirituality, or your own humanity?” I’m not a person who like it when people give me the easy answer, so I don’t like to give the easy answer. A lot of names came to mind when I read the question, but I asked myself, “Which person in the Bible teaches me about all three?” I wondered if there was someone who gave me insight into God, what it means to be spiritual and taught me about my own humanity.

I came up with Job. You may say, “That’s an easy answer. Why didn’t you say Mephibosheth or someone like that?” Job I believe met all three criteria in my own personal life. He taught me a lot about who God is. One of the first things I learned about God is that He doesn’t cause the bad times in my life, but He allows them so that He can prove my faithfulness to Him. Satan went to God and pointed to Job’s righteousness. Satan told God that he only lived that way because of all the blessings. God responded in Job 1:12, “All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence (NLT).

Job also taught me about spiritual things. He proved that you could maintain your integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. Having lost his kids, his possessions, his money and everything precious to him, He fell to his knees and found cause to worship God. When his friends accused him of wrong doing, he did not flinch. When his wife told him to curse God and die, he responded with wisdom, “Shall we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” When he had no reason to hope, to trust or the worship, he did all three because of his foundation found in his relationship with God.

He reminds me of my humanity later on in the book. God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and asked him some tough questions like, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Do you know where the gates of death are? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons?” I’m reminded that God is in control and my feeble attempts to control my life are out of my hands. The things that happen can be a consequence of my behavior or they can be from God to prepare me for things that are coming. Either way, God has set them into motion and they are far too great for me to understand even if He answered my question of “Why”.

Job is the oldest book in the Bible and it still speaks to me. Every time I read it, I gain insight into who God is and how He sees me. I get challenged to live a life of worship. When hard times hit unexpectedly, they reveal what’s really on the inside. For job, that was worship and integrity. When life’s storms hit my shore, I look to Job for advice and proof that I can survive anything. He was human and he endured Satan’s worst attacks on his life. His humanity was exposed in the storm, but so was his foundation. I want to be that kind of follower of Christ. I want to have that sure of a foundation. I want God to be able to point at me and say, “Have you considered my servant Chris? He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” If Job did it, so can you and I.

So I ask you, who in the Scriptures, besides Jesus, teaches you much about God, spirituality or your own humanity?

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Don’t Despair

Imagine you’re running for your life. Not only is someone out to kill you, but they have an entire army with them. They have eyes everywhere that are constantly giving up your location. You’re running out of places to hide, and they’re closing in. You see a cave and run into it. You go back into the dark, damp cave and crouch behind a rock. There’s only one way in and one way out. You can hear voices outside from the army as they approach. Your heart is beating so fast you can almost hear it. Just then, a person’s silhouette darkens the cave opening and they step into the cave. Your heart sinks. This is it. Game over. Hope is gone. Despair sets in as the move closer and closer to you. Inside, you’re crying out to God for help because He’s the only hope you have.

This is how David lived and must have felt when Saul walked into the very cave he was hiding in. It was a desperate, hopeless situation. Maybe that’s where you are today. You feel trapped with no way out. You can’t sleep. You’re mentally drained and exhausted. You’re tired of running and hope is gone. People may be wondering why you haven’t thrown in the towel and given up yet. Despair is knocking on your door telling you that there is no hope or anyone who can help you. I just want to say, as someone who has been there, that despair is a liar. When you have no hope, you still have a prayer and that is all you need because God hears even the faintest cry for help.

I’ve found that just because I can only see one way out, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way. God is able to make a way where there is no way. He is able to bring hope into the darkest cave. He is Jehovah Jireh your provider. He is Jehovah Rapha your healer. He is Jehovah Shalom your peace. He is Jehovah Nissi your victory. Psalm 27:14 says, “Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord” (GNT). No matter what is going on in your life, trust in the Lord. He sees you and knows the very number of hairs on your head. He has not forgotten you. He will not abandon you. He will strengthen you and walk through this with you as He did for David, myself and countless others.

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Embracing Your Brokenness

We’ve all read the story of Humpty Dumpty. I’m not sure why he was up on that wall or what caused him to fall. What we do know is that when an egg has a sudden stop against the ground, it creates quite a mess. Shell gets sent in every direction and in every size. It’s an impossible task for anyone to pick up all the pieces and put them together again so we don’t try. Something that’s just as impossible is to try to fix the brokenness in our own life, but we try to do it all the time. We think that if people see the cracks in our shell or that our life is in pieces, they’ll reject us, so we try to fix our brokenness.

The truth is that we are all broken. Some of us are more broken than others. Some of us are better at hiding it. Some of us look at the mess and give up, but every one of us find some type of coping mechanism to appease either guilt we feel or the hurt left over from our brokenness. We all have that inner desire to be made whole. We’re afraid that our brokenness or way of coping with it will be exposed, so we cover it up and try to make everything look like it’s perfect. It’s impossible for you and I to heal our own brokenness and to make ourselves whole.

The good news is that God is able to pick up the pieces of your life and put them back together into a beautiful mosaic work of art. You see, your brokenness is what makes you human and in need of God. It’s what makes you approachable by others in their brokenness. In Psalm 25:21 David cried out to God regarding his own brokenness, “Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product” (MSG). When God puts us back together, he leaves the cracks and the lines to do away with the facade that we’re perfect. Don’t try to cover them up, for through your brokenness others will find their wholeness.

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Preparation And Conditioning

In high school I had a coach that was tough. He would spend an hour and a half of a two hour practice conditioning our team. We would run laps outside and sprints inside. When we would beg for water, he’d say, “You can’t stop a game to get water.” After we would practice our plays for about 30 minutes, we’d finish practice with more running. Before you left, you had to make 100 free throws. He would tell us, “We may not be the best team on the floor, but we will be the best conditioned team.” I can tell you he was right. We ran the other teams out of the gym because they would get tired. When we held the state championship trophy, it was all worth it.

God, like that coach, is always looking ahead in our lives, seeing what we can’t see. He knows what it will take to condition us now so that we will endure the things that are coming. Preparing and conditioning are never easy, nor are they fun, but they build in us the endurance to push through where others fail. They get us in shape spiritually for the spiritual battles that we will face. At times during conditioning we can feel like giving up or want to start questioning why we aren’t spending more time practicing the things God is going to use us for. I’ve learned that if the enemy succeeds in destroying our witness, he can keep us from giving the message. We must be able to endure the pressure first.

I love the way The Passion Translation words Psalm 23:4. It says, “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!” God’s path rarely goes where we think it should. Many times it goes into dark places of testing and conditioning because God wants to build your trust in Him before the enemy attacks. What you learn in the valley will sustain you in the battle. Preparation and conditioning are necessary to make you more than a conqueror. The greater God’s plan is for your life, the greater your preparation and conditioning will be.

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Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s a day to reflect on the cross and the price Jesus paid for our sins. I’ve heard it explained that we owed a debt we could not pay. He paid a debt He did not owe. Because of His sacrifice, we received God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Its important to remember that no man took Jesus’ life from Him. Out of love for us, He willingly laid it down so that you and I could spend eternity with Him. While those who watched Him die didn’t understand what He was doing, you and I have the gift of hindsight. We know that He didn’t stay on the cross, nor in the grave. He resurrected from the dead to give us new life.

The cross that took Jesus’ life that Good Friday became the symbol for our faith. It reminds us of what Jesus did and that you and I are to take ours up daily and crucify our old life to it. Through the cross, we have been made a new creation. Our old life has passed away. Our sin, the thing that separated us from God, was nailed to the cross that day. He who was sinless, took on our sin that day so that you and I could become the righteousness of God through Him. Because of that, today is a day of reverence and reflection, but also a day of thanksgiving.

Here are five Bible verses that tell the story of Good Friday.

1. When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.”

John 19:6 GNT

2. When they came to the place that is known as The Skull, the guards crucified Jesus, nailing him on the center cross between the two criminals.

Luke 23:33 TPT

3. By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NLT

4. Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

John 19:31-34 MSG

5. I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

GALATIANS 2:20 AMP

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Delayed Answers

One of the most frustrating things for me is to leave on time and to arrive at work late. This recently happened several days in a row. When I turned on my app, it showed I would arrive at work 30 minutes early. As I drove, it kept rerouting me and delaying the time. It would beep and say, “Found new route. No time saved.” Then it would beep and say, “Delayed eight minutes.” I went through side streets, back roads, highways, and freeways to get to my destination. In the end, it was about 30 minutes after I was supposed to start my meeting. I came in, apologized, and delivered the content.

As I read Daniel 10, it made me think of that day in traffic. Each of us has been delayed trying to get where we are going. We’ve all tried to get somewhere important only to have to take alternate routes. It turns out, these things happen to angels too (on a whole different level of course). They have places to be and messages to give, but are delayed as well. Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks, but hadn’t heard from God. It turns out, the angel ran into traffic and was delayed in bringing the answer.

In verse 13, the Angel said to Daniel, “But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (NLT). He wasn’t delayed by 30 minutes, he was delayed three weeks! He had to fight rulers and principalities of the air in order to bring Daniel the answer he was seeking. If it happened then, it happens today.

I love what the Angel said just before that in verse 12. He said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” It’s a great reminder that when we begin to pray, our prayers are heard in heaven immediately. Sometimes there’s traffic in delivering our answer though. We can’t give up praying because we haven’t been answered yet. There is a spiritual war raging that we don’t see, and it can cause delays. Daniel’s answer took 3 weeks of fasting and prayer. Imagine if he hadn’t been fasting or had quit praying.

Don’t quit seeking God for the answers to your prayers. We have no idea why answers don’t come as quickly as we would like. I wonder how many times I’ve blamed God for not answering my prayers, and I quit praying not knowing He had sent the answer and it got delayed. Just as God’s Angel was determined to get to Daniel with the answer, we need to be determined to keep praying and fasting until we get God’s answer. We can’t control how long it takes for the answer to arrive, but we can control how long we seek God for answers.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Surrendering Your Future

Several years ago I lost just about everything in my life that mattered to me. I went through a six month stretch where I would think I hit rock bottom, but then the bottom would fall out again. No matter what I tried, no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop the free fall. When there was nothing left, I cried out to God one night and said, “Lord, I give up! I can’t do this anymore.” Laying there on that floor, i heard God’s still, small voice whisper back, “Finally.” For Years I had been fighting what God wanted to do in my life and had been living life for myself instead of for Him. I had built the life I wanted on top of the foundation He had laid.

That night, in my mind, i saw a picture of myself curled up in the fetal position on a foundation. There was debris all around me and it was pouring down rain. I didn’t have the strength or the will to get up. I believe God was showing me my life at that moment. Everything I had built had been stripped away. When I said, “God, I’ve been left with nothing,” He relied, “You still have your foundation. If you’ll let me, I’ll build on it the life I want you to have.” I prayed, “Lord, do with my life what you want. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

In Psalm 16:5, David prayed a similar prayer that resonates with me. He said, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” (GNT). You and I can spend a lifetime trying to plan our future and build the life we want, but we will never be satisfied until we give our future to God. He has a master plan for each of our lives and desires that we give Him the reigns of our future. It’s up to us to surrender our will to His. I can tell you from personal experience that the life He wants for you is far greater than anything you can imagine or build yourself.

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