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Job, That Book

I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Job 23:12

That pesky little book of Job. I have tried my best to avoid it, but there it is. It just keeps popping up.

Right there, nestled in between Esther and Psalms we find it. What an amazing place to be! On one side we have, Esther, a wonderful obedient woman of God. On the other side we have a book of worship, singing, confession, and hope. We see the heart of King David.

And then we have Job. He too was a man of God. As I read through the book my heart breaks for Job. He lived such a blessed life and then Satan comes in to destroy, challenge God’s power, and to undermine Job’s faithfulness.

I would much rather read about Esther saving the Israelites with her courage and obedience or David killing the giant with a slingshot. Job’s story just seems so sad and discouraging.

And yet, Job’s faith in God rings out through the entire book. During the times of joy and the times of horror, Job remained faithful. His friends, though well meaning, tried to give him misguided condolences and counsel, but Job remained faithful.

His family murdered, his possessions gone, even his very own body riddled with disease. And yet he remained faithful.

As much as it grieves me to read most of the book, I read its entirety. Because, in the end, God still reigned; Job, still had faith; and Satan, was still defeated, as he always will be.

Job, a difficult book to get through, but so worth it.

Father, thank you so much for your Word and for the examples of faith like Job and Esther and David you allow us to get to know through it.

Susan P.

The Me Card Game

…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
James 1:19b-20

Scenario: someone says something unjust and untrue about me. How do I respond? I usually play The Me Card Game in some form or fashion.

“Poor me” card – tell everyone who will listen that nobody likes me. Stir up as much strife as possible. Result: people may tire of my drama and move on.

“Not me” card – The other person’s comment was totally unfounded. I’m not going to waste any of my energy worrying about it. I’ll give it to God. Result: Rumor dies down, God’s grace abounds.

“Maybe me” card – I pray and ask God if anything I did even remotely resembles the accusation. Result: precious personal time with God, rest from the ugliness of the situation.

“Wait and see” me card – I just sit back and watch what unfolds. I use patience at all costs. I pray that God will help me to wait on Him to move. Result: the situation will either come to a head on its own or die down without fanfare.

“Why me” card – I can try to figure out why in the world someone would say that about me. Result: could be negative or positive. If I wallow around in self-pity, this card could lead to bitterness and depression. If I play it in a heartfelt serious manner, it could lead me to a whole new level of joy and understanding.

I may choose a combination of me cards to play, but I must choose wisely because whichever card I play, I have to live out the consequences.

How did I come up with this game? Experience. At one time or another I have played each one of these cards and dealt with the aftermath. Thank goodness I am not playing this game alone. Good choices or bad, God is right there with me.

God, thank you for desiring the best for us. Your steadfast love is amazing.

Susan P.

Meet Me at the Playground: Let’s Play Red Rover

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us
2 Corinthians 5:20

Red Rover was a team game often played on the courtyard of Travis school. Sometimes we included the boys. However, if they became too rough, we quickly ousted them.

Two teams of about eight players would hold hands and line up facing each other. Then they would call one of the other team’s members with this rhyme:

Red Rover, Red Rover, let ?? come over.

That person would then run and try to break through the opponent’s line. If she did, she could take one of the enemy players back to her side. If she failed she stayed on the opposing team’s side. The game ended when one side had all the players. It was a fun game.

Christians have a challenging task. We are called to break through the barriers of ignorance, apathy, and closed hearts to win others for our team, God’s kingdom. We have received a commission to do this. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28: 19,20).

Our task is a daunting one. Since the 60’s our nation has strayed further and further from the teachings in God’s Word. We are fed lies like:  All roads lead to Heaven. The historical Jesus is false. The Bible is not accurate. Modern social mores change God’s laws. The established church is dying. These falsehoods come from Satan, the father of lies.

We need to stand up for Christ. Paul admonishes us: Be on your guardstand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Let’s look at our own lives. Are we committed to walk in the way Christ walked? Do we forgive as He did? Do we worship in God’s House as Christ did? After all, Jesus was perfect, yet He spent many hours in the synagogue studying the scriptures. Do we seek out lost people and share our testimonies?

When we look in the mirror of our lives, do we see a reflection of Christ? Gentle Jesus was a friend to all. He ate with the sinners and touched the leper. He healed the lunatic and forgave the harlot. Do we care for all kinds of people as He did? That is the kind of ambassador who breaks through the barriers and wins people to our team.

Dear Father, Give us power through Your Spirit to be brave. Help us break through the line and carry people back to the winning side of Christ.

Janice Yandell

Meet Me at the Playground: Let's Slide

I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, for I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing
Romans 7:18, 19 

Our Girl Scout troop had enjoyed sliding down the largest slide at our city park. At noon we left to eat our picnic lunch in another area. 

Some boys came along and rubbed the slide with wax paper to make it slicker. I was the first scout to slide down it after we came back. Ouch! I landed on my rear after unexpectedly zooming down the slide. That was what I would call quick sliding. Today I’m going to address backsliding.

I used to think that the term, backsliding, was a modern church term. Not so. God used this term in messages He gave to two prophets.

Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his message to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was nothing but judgment. The two kingdoms had forsaken God and been unfaithful to Him. One of his messages from God was this: “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding” (Jeremiah 3:22).

Another prophet, Ezekiel, spoke for God. The Israelites were in captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah had reluctantly prophesied this captivity. Now Ezekiel was giving them words of hope. God gave this message to Ezekiel for the people: “They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel: 37:23).

Backsliding means going back into old ways. When Christians give their lives to Christ, they want to walk in His ways. Along the path of life the old ways call and back we go into old habits. 

It may simply mean that you don’t spend time with God at church or in His Word. It could be an old habit you freed yourself from only to return to it. 

I can think of one habit I have banned in my life only to backslide time and time again. I know I am not to judge others, yet I often find myself doing this very thing. I need to remember that because of Christ’s death on the cross, God forgave me, and I won’t face judgment from Him. How can I judge others?

God promised His chosen people that He would cure and save them from backsliding. He gives us hope also. No temptation has over taken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Let’s search our hearts today. Have we taken back an old habit or desire that is displeasing to God? Remember that He will help you if you confess your backsliding and depend on Him to help you.

Dear Father, Help us refrain from backsliding. Thank You for giving us the promise of a way out when we are tempted.

Janice Yandell

Meet Me at the Playground: Let’s Jump Rope

So do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is---his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

We jumped rope on the courtyard of our elementary school. We always brought our own ropes, but we really liked to jump with the heavy long rope thrown by two of our friends. Remember?

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.

The real challenge came when the two holders threw hot pepperThey deliberately threw faster and faster until you were exhausted or missed. What fun! Remember?

Mable, Mable, set the table.
Don’t forget the hot pepper!

Today’s verse admonishes us about conforming to the pattern of this world. The pattern of this world is hot pepper. Faster and faster we jump trying not to stumble as we go through each twenty-four hours.

The technological age is great. I can text my granddaughters, talk with and skype anyone, anywhere. We can watch movies, buy stocks, chat on Facebook, and Google any subject. I could go on and on presenting the marvels of this age.

The downside of the technological age is that it adds to the rat race. I cringe when I see a family in a restaurant with the dad lost in conversation on his Iphone while the rest of the family is ignored. I am heart broken when I observe mothers walking with their children at my recreation area. Sharing the beauty of God’s nature is forgotten as the moms chat endlessly on their phones.

Many children sit at their computers for hours while more worthwhile activities take a back seat. Outside play takes a backseat to the endless hours spent playing video games.

All of the modern conveniences are meant to save us time. I’m afraid the extra time is spent frivolously. Whoa! Don’t take my computer away. Still, I am afraid that we jump through life at hot pepper speed.

What does God say about this dilemma? We were meant to praise God throughout the day. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised 
(Psalm 113:3). That should slow us down a bit. When our eyes are on the Lord, we tend to make better decisions.

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word (Psalm 119:37)The psalmist pleads with God to help him set priorities. This is a good thing for us, too. Time-wasting habits are hard to break. We need the strength God gives to guide us each day.

Dear Father, Help us lead our families to meaningful activities in our lives. Teach us to slow the hot pepper lifestyle to one which pleases you.

Janice Yandell