Job Bible Study

The Greatness of Leviathans

I remember sitting on a beach in the Dominican Republic at the end of a weeklong Mission’s Trip to an orphanage.  It was a perfect day.  The temperature, the breeze, the sound of the waves, and the calm.  I was filled with the blessing of serving orphans in need: playing games, teaching Bible stories, and filling their little hearts with love.  I was tired, but energized from it. I thought to myself, if only I could bottle up this day, to open again when I got home to the cold winter of Michigan.

I sat on top of this hill looking over the water and just marveled at God’s creation.  It was so perfect and beyond anything any human could devise.  My heart was so full of God’s magnificence in that moment.  It was pure joy!

Have you ever felt that way?  Maybe looking at a mountain, or the vast expanse of the ocean.  Or, at the zoo with all of the different animals, and the sky and all of its stars.  Sometimes it catches me off-guard when I take a moment to soak up all that God has uniquely created.  I’m reminded of how great he is and how small I am.  Small, but not insignificant or unloved by God.

20170801_065956_resizedAs the story of Job concludes, we finally see God appearing in a whirlwind to answer to Job.  But it isn’t what we expect.  Let’s read on to see how it all pans out.

S – Scripture: Job 38-42

  • 38:1-7 – “Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?'”
  • 38:28-33 – “Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to the dew? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes. Can you direct the movement of the stars–binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the sequence of the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?”
  • 38:36 – “Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?”
  • 40:1-10 – “Then the LORD said to Job, ‘Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?’ Then Job replied to the LORD, ‘I am nothing–how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.’ Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: ‘Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right? Are you as strong as God? Can you thunder with a voice like his? All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.'”
  • 40:10-11 – “And since no one dares to disturb it (the Leviathan), who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”
  • 42:1-6 – “Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I–and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.'” 
  • 42:8 – “So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.”
  • 42:10 – “When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before!”
  • 42:16-17 – “Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.”

20170731_210632_resizedO – Observation: 

  • God is All-Powerful, the mighty Creator of everything, supreme, forgiving, and the giver of everything we have.
  • If we are no match for God’s creations, we are definitely no match against God.  We have no standing against him.  He controls all and created all.
  • When things fall apart it seems natural to question who God is and why he does what he does.  But we have no business questioning him.  That takes a lot of trust!
  • Job’s friends receive God’s grace despite them speaking inaccurately about it.  God knows our weaknesses and offers grace when we repent.
  • Job asks for forgiveness for questioning God though he did not speak falsely like his friends did.  He receives God’s blessing of twice what he had before.  His life is restored two-fold and he lives a long and full life.  How amazing!
  • God can bless us beyond what we hope or imagine when we endure hardships and stay true to all that he says he is and can do.
  • What Satan thought would be a victory, God had control over the whole time and came out on top.  It could only have been God that restored Job and not by any works that he did.
  • How many people were changed and blessed because of Job’s redemption story?  How much more glory was brought to God by those around him and after him due to his amazing comeback brought about only by God’s hand?

A – Application: 

I love this interaction between God and Job.  I think I expected God to explain to Job how Satan came and wanted to test Job’s faith, saying that it was only because God had given him so much.  The reason for all of his troubles, was to prove that it was Job’s faith and not his wealth that made him righteous before God.

But God doesn’t explain any of that.  He reminds Job of all of the great and powerful things he has done and controls.   You wouldn’t go up a Leviathan, God states, why would you consider going against the Creator of the great beast.  Who is Job (or anyone) to question anything that God does?

20170731_175822_resizedChapter 40, verse 8 I believe explains Job’s fault in all of this, “Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right?” Job is so set on proving his innocence and God’s wrongfulness in punishing him, that he forgets that God can do anything and control everything.  God doesn’t need any explanation for what he does.  He is always right.

Are you okay with that too?  Can you be satisfied that God gives his consent for certain things to happen and doesn’t need to give a reason why?  Can you consolidate the idea that God  allows us to go through seemingly unbearable trials and yet has an all-consuming, unconditional love for us.  And for each and every one of us.  I can’t explain either.  Can you? Are we supposed to?

It doesn’t seem like, from this story, that we are to question God’s actions, only experience them and plant our feet firmly in him.  We are called to trust that he has everything working the way it is supposed to, for the good of all who put their faith in him.  That takes a lot of faith!

Then we see the end, where God blesses Job with twice as much as he had before once he repents and gives offerings for the sins of his friends. We witness Job standing strong and living many years later, blessed by God for enduring the tragedy of losing it all.  What a beautiful conclusion.

Yes, God has the ability to allow bad things to happen.  But he has even greater capacity to bless us beyond what we lost before.  He has the power to deliver us and redeem us from the dark that we feel surrounded by in times of trouble.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.'” Romans 10:9-11

When all seems too far gone, and the road to recovery to long, just stop.  Breathe.  Step outside and feel the breeze on your cheeks, warm or cold, take it all in.  God is there.  Acknowledge who God is and who you are.  A sinner, craving for grace.  “Believe in your heart that you are made right with God…and are saved.”

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-38

Nothing can separate us from the love and power that God has. Nothing. Just sit with that for a moment.  Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, just take that in.  Our God is so good.  He allows trials, yes, but he never leaves us to face them alone and he always provides an ending with blessing and abundant life, whether on this earth or in heaven.  Trust in his amazing love today, friend.

20170729_104637P – Prayer:

God, life can be hard.  I sometimes can’t help but question why you would allow some of the things you do.  But you don’t have to give the answers and you don’t even have to make good out of those things.  Yet you do because you love me, more than I know. And nothing can separate me from that love. Thank you for that.

Lord, strengthen those who are in the middle of a trial today.  Help them to feel your love and power working in their lives amidst the tragedy and unknown.  You allow us to see all that we need to and you work in ways we know and don’t know.  You are so much more that I can imagine.  Thank you for that.  Amen

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Job Bible Study

All He Had

“My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.” Malachi 1:11

Sometimes I read scripture and I’m led back to The Garden, where it all began.  God creates this majestic, beautiful, pure, and innocent dwelling for plants, animals, and humans.  I love that picture! How peaceful and calm a place like that would be, with uninterrupted and undistracted fellowship with God. Oh, to be able to walk along the crystal rivers with the Lord at my side.  Feeling the fresh air and smelling the flowers would be like Heaven, I imagine.

But he placed a choice in The Garden for humans.  Though we were created in his image and meant to live in close relationship with him, he still gave us the option.  Unfortunately, we chose to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil.  Satan, knowing of our desires (which we may not have known we had in us), deceived us and birthed the new emotions of pride, envy, lust, and much more.

Since God is righteous, sin could not be in his presence (another dirty trick from Satan).  This is where we witness the first sacrifice needed to atone for sin and the separation between God and man because of it. We also see the consequences of sin with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden and cursed with trials and pain.

20170729_111119So begins the narrative of God working to redeem his beloved creation.  This battle arises for the souls of his people. With that, the characteristics of God are revealed in part.  We see his righteousness, love, justice, jealousy, mercy, and anger, to name a few.

I can’t say whether God had intended for the world to turn out the way it has.  I’m not sure this was part of his original plan for his creation.  But throughout the Bible (and thank goodness we have this good book), we see God unleashing all of who he is, all of this power and control, and every heavenly and earthly resource he has, to bring us back and make things right.

Job’s “friend,” Elihu, says in his rant, “If you sin, how does this affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what affect will it have on him?” This statement stuck with as I went through the SOAP process this morning.  It’s what brought me back to The Garden.  Let’s explore it a little more, shall we?

S – Scripture: Job 35-37

  • 35:1-3 – Then Elihu said: “Do you think it is right for you to claim, ‘I am righteous before God’? For you also ask, ‘What’s in it for me? What’s the use of living a righteous life?'” 
  • 35:6-8 – “If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans.” 
  • 36:7-11 – “He never takes his eyes off the innocent, but he sets them on thrones with kings and exalts them forever. If they are bound in chains and caught up in a web of trouble, he shows them the reason. He shows them their sins of pride. He gets their attention and commands that they turn from evil. If they listen and obey God, they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant.”
  • 36:16-17,21 – “God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food. But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged. Don’t worry, judgment and justice will be upheld…Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for God sent this suffering to keep you from a life of evil.”
  • 37:5-7 – “God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power. He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. Then everyone stops working so they can watch his power.”
  • 37:19-20 –  “So teach the rest of us what to say to God. We are too ignorant to make our own arguments. Should God be notified that I want to speak? Can people even speak when they are confused?”

O – Observation:

  • Elihu brings up a questions that Job had previously asked – What good is it to be righteous when everyone ends up in the same place?
  • Elihu is saying that whether we are good or bad, it doesn’t affect God.  It only affects the person (in the case of righteousness) or others near us (when sin is involved).
  • The good and forgiven will be blessed and the wicked punished.
  • Adversity gives light to sin, Elihu says.  This is Job’s opportunity to turn from sin and away from the dangers of it.
  • “Justice and judgement will be upheld.” Yes, on God’s timeline not ours.

20170730_141242A – Application:

“He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect.
Everything he does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4

“Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:1-2

“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” Exodus 34:14

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:5&9

“God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11

“But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.”                            Romans 15:5

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”          Romans 5:20-21

I know, I went a little verse crazy.  But, oh my goodness, it’s all good stuff!  What Elihu said about how our sin and righteousness don’t affect God got me going.  I had to unpack this.

There is part of me that is okay with knowing that God can ultimately work his plan whether I am righteous or wicked.  His purpose will transcend anything I do.  I know that temptation surrounds me and I will fall sometimes, God will still work.  There are seasons where I will be obedient and more “righteous,” and God will still work.  20170730_141309

I also agree that God’s character was never affected by my sin, but like I mentioned before, all of who he is was unleashed when sin entered the world.  It didn’t change him, it allowed him to reveal all that he was and all that he could do.  But based on the actions after “The Fall,” God’s plan was affected, and every action since has been to bring his people back to himself (that’s the other part of my thinking).

God is Righteous, and therefore, sin (and sinful people) can be nowhere near him.  He is Just, and so all acts of disobedience must be punished, or reconciled. God is angry at the wickedness of the world.  He hates it! Our God is Jealous and longs dearly for us to be with him.  He will go to any lengths to get us back to him.  God has unconditional love and mercy for us.  This is a free gift, given and not earned by anything we can do because we are all sinful.

God is all of these things, and has to be all of these things in order for us to be saved.  These verses in Job not only take me to The Garden, but to The Cross.  When sin entered and we were separated, God devised a plan to take out the penalty of sin once and for all and give us eternal fellowship with him in Heaven.  He would ultimately win the war against the devil and be reunited with his precious creation.

It took all that he is and all of his resources re-write history with The Cross.  He sent his Son, part of himself, to be the sacrifice to atone for all of the world’s past, present, and future sins.  It was his righteousness, justice, anger, jealousy, love, and mercy that made the event on the Cross as powerful as it was.  What an amazing gift!

I ponder God’s story throughout the Bible and I am in awe.  Everything he has done was because of his supernatural, unconditional, unexplainable love for his creation that he made so long ago. God was called to action that day in the Garden of Eden.  Why he put the choice between him and the tree in the Garden, I don’t know.  But I know the sweetness of this grace.  I feel the power of his justice and jealousy in my life and long to be in his presence one day, wrapped in his loving arms, in purity and innocence because of the Cross.  I get teary-eyed just thinking of how much someone could love me so much and die for me, despite my unrighteousness.

20170730_141025P – Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, that you didn’t just leave me to the fate of death because of sin.  Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your son to pay the penalty.  Life would be hopeless without it.

God, you are so much.  Too much to comprehend.  I am in awe of all that you are and all that you have done for the world and for me.  God, I lift up all of those who are searching for answers.  I pray that they would be able to step out in faith today and accept all of the known and unknown things about you.  It’s easy to get caught up in the incomprehensible and miss out on the life-changing act of accepting your gift by faith.  Lord, break down those walls that you might be able to enter in those lives that you have been working on reaching.

You are so good.  You are so much more than I can think or imagine.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #13 - All He Had
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
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God unleashed every heavenly and earthly resource he has to be us back and make things right.

Job Bible Study

What We Think We Know

Have you ever thought something to be so true, only to find out later that you were so wrong?  I do this with song lyrics often.  I’ll be singing at the top of my lungs and think, that doesn’t sound right.  I look up the lyrics and sure enough, I had that line wrong for years!

There are other more serious scenarios where I didn’t discern the situation correctly and was stuck with my so-called tail between my legs.  Sometimes it’s a matter of not having enough information, receiving misleading information, or our past experiences have led us to believe that situations lead to certain outcomes.

I don’t believe that I ever did anything out of pride or envy.  I never want to see someone down on their luck get crushed even further.  But it is something to consider when giving advice to someone.  There needs to be a certain amount of discernment involved when counseling others.

I think it is a natural response for humans to question why certain things happen to them.  I also believe that, as friends trying to help those questioning, we often feel the need to try to explain why that said thing could’ve happened.  Where is our truth coming from?  Is it okay to not have an answer?  Can we still be comforting without it?  Is it better to just not sing the lyrics, or continue making our own words up, blinded to the real words and meaning of the song?

We do have a one-up on Job’s friends.  We know that God allowed Satan to test Job and try to sway his faithfulness. God even says that Job is a righteous man and that this test is not a punishment.  His friends, however, can’t even comprehend this as a possibility.  They are getting the lyrics all wrong.  Let’s consider those questions above as we read on.

20170722_194257.jpgS – Scripture: Job 32-34

  • 32:2-3 – “Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry. He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him. He was also angry with Job’s three friends, for they made God appear to be wrong by their inability to answer Job’s arguments.”
  • 32:12-14 – “I have listened, but not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments. And don’t tell me, ‘He is too wise for us. Only God can convince him.'”
  • 33:9-13 – “You said, ‘I am pure; I am without sin; I am innocent; I have no guilt. God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me his enemy. He puts my feet in the stocks and watches my every move.’ But you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. So why are you bringing a charge against him? Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?”
  • 33:23-25 -“But if an angel from heaven appears–a special messenger to intercede for a person and declare that he is upright–he will be gracious and say, ‘Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life.’ Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s, firm and youthful again.”
  • 34:11-13 – “He repays people according to their deeds. He treats people as they deserve. Truly, God will not do wrong. The Almighty will not twist justice. Did someone else put the world in his care? Who set the whole world in place?”
  • 34:21-22 -“For God watches how people live; he sees everything they do. No darkness is thick enough to hide the wicked from his eyes.”
  • 34:36-37 – “Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked. For you have added rebellion to your sin; you show no respect, and you speak many angry words against God.”

O – Observation:

  • Elihu speaks against Job.  He is angry because Job won’t admit his sin to God and that God has the right to punish him.
  • He questions why and how Job can accuse God of doing these things to him.  He thinks Job has not right (and is guilty) to come at God that way.
  • Elihu claims that God would speak to Job if only he would repent – Job is clearly being punished.
  • Satan works by twisting the truth in the slightest way.
  • We must be careful to discern God’s truth among all of the other noise spoken to us.
  • Elihu wasn’t necessarily speaking falsely about God and his justice, but he definitely didn’t know what was going on.  Again, he had the head knowledge of God, but not the heart knowledge that Job had.
  • We really don’t know how God works or why he does the things he does.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge                 of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”                       2 Corinthians 10:5

“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

20170714_133957_resizedA – Application:

One of the greatest things that people said to Dan and I as we went through our miscarriages was, “I’m so sorry, I’ll be praying for you.”  This may seem like a passive response, but it was all that I needed and wanted to hear.  I knew they meant it, and I felt those prayers.

I didn’t want a discussion or explanation of what may have caused this or why God would allow it.  I coudn’t handle that.  I just wanted to sad and angry for a time. Knowing that people who loved me were praying for me was all I really wanted.

This is just my opinion, but I think that sometimes we are too quick to try to resolve a situation and move on. Sometimes we need to just sit with the pain, sadness, anger, confusion, and grief.  We personally, and others alongside us, may not know how to deal with those emotions so we try to brush them off with platitudes and earthly explanations.

What I also think, is that it’s in those deep emotions that God can really work.  If I hadn’t stopped to rest, physically and mentally, I may have missed out on feeling the most gentle grace and love that I have ever felt.  If I had just put those emotions in a box and buried them deep inside I wouldn’t have been able to experience God’s amazing power to redeem and grow my life into something new and beautiful.  The alternative would have been fear, doubt, loss of faith and hope in God, bitterness, anger, etc. I may have just become an empty shell instead of a thriving vessel for God to use.

What my life is turning into is nothing that I could’ve explained or imagined.  God is working. I truly believe that it is beacause, in all of the wrestling though the emotions, I have allowed God to work and to heal me.

But it started with friends and family allowing me to do that.  By praying for me and giving me a hug without saying anything, I had the room and grace to seek out the answers from God alone.  He, above all, had to me my healer, counselor, and redeemer.

This wasn’t always easy, in fact, I don’t think it has been since this started a year and a half ago.  I had to focus on “taking captive every thought” and “renewing my mind” amidst all of the emotion to lead me back to God when I felt weak and helpless.  There were many tears and moments of doubt, but it always lead back to trusting in the Almighty Redeemer.  He became my fortress and shield.


Words fall short most of the time.  Prayers are never missed by God.  He always hears.  I guess my advice out of all of this is to give yourself and your friends or family the space to wrestle with those tough emotions.  You can be there to hold them up and pray bold prayers to a God who can do far more than we can hope or imagine.  Sometimes the person going through the hurt can’t pray those yet, and that’s okay. Many times we need others around us to believe that God can make something beautiful when all we see is destruction and tragedy.

What I recall needing prayers for the most include 1.) God’s gentle and abundant grace and healing, and 2.) God’s protection over the heart’s of those hurting, that fear and doubt would be far from them.

I urge you, and I’m speaking to myself too, to not make things worse with your words. If you don’t know what to say, stay silent and pray.  God may give you some words to share or use your silent presence as a source of comfort. Trust that God is working and that he has a plan out of our tragedies, beyond explanation.  Don’t sing (in this case) without know all of the lyrics. Allow God to work without putting him in a box of our own, small thinking and vision.  Let our big and majestic God do big and majestic things with our lives.

P – Prayer:

God, I thank you so much that you are bigger and more loving than any hurt or tragedy that comes our way.  It can be easier to box up those tough emotions and not deal with them.  I felt like I would lose control if I let one out of the box.  But it was when I did that you had room to work.  We could tackle it together.  You never left me alone in my pain. You are so good.

Lord, I lift up those who are hurting today.  Would you nudge them to give themselves rest and space to stop and be with you?  Could you show them your gentle grace and love in that place?  Protect their hearts from the lies that Satan dishes out.  May the arrows of doubt and fear not touch them.

May you redeem and heal us and those around us Lord.  Make good on the bad things we have experienced.   Make us beautiful and thriving again. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #12 - What We Think We Know
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It was when I did that God had room to work.
Job Bible Study

Making Good

Life seems pretty good, until it’s not.  Everything can be going so well and then, WHAM!, the carpet gets pulled out from under you.  You are lying on the floor dizzy and shaken, maybe concussed.  In shock, you look around at the mess and dust floating in the air.  How did you get here?

You were walking a straight line.  You had picked up all of the obstacles so that you wouldn’t trip.  The job is secure, the family is thriving, the house payments are in on time, the faith is growing.  What did you miss to get you here on the floor?

Bad news is always a phone call away, isn’t it?  That isn’t to scare you, but it’s usually the harsh reality.  We see Job, living an amazing life.  Righteous and with integrity, he walks among the community.  God has granted him with many blessings and Job knows that. He had a vision that life would be good and long because of his devotion to God.  But the devil had the idea that he could turn Job away from God by taking away all that God had given him.  In a blink, Job’s life changed.

crossroadsWe are in the midst of Job’s turmoil and sorrow.  This is a cross-roads for us too.  How can you, when life takes an unexpected, unexplained turn, keep your faith in God?  How can you see eventual good come out of a tragic situation?  What could God possibly do to make this impossible situation better?

Read on, friends!

S – Scripture: Job 29-31

  • 29:13-14 – “I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy. Everything I did was honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban.”
  • 29:18-19 – “I thought, ‘Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life. For I am like a tree whose roots reach the water, whose branches are refreshed with the dew.'”
  • 30:15-18 – “I live in terror now. My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud. And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days. At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly. With a strong hand, God grabs my shirt. He grips me by the collar of my coat.”
  • 30:20 – “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look.”
  • 31:14 – “how could I face God? What could I say when he questioned me?”
  • 31:35-36 – “If only someone would listen to me! Look, I will sign my name to my defense. Let the Almighty answer me. Let my accuser write out the charges against me. I would face the accusation proudly. I would wear it like a crown.”

O – Observation:

    • Job speaks of his former life, all he had and all of the good things he did for others.  He lead a righteous life and felt strong and secure.
    • Job laments about life as it is now.  He is mocked, robbed, despised, alone, humbled, opposed, depressed, in pain, and persecuted by all the people he helped before.
    • Job makes one more claim of innocence and questions what he may have done.
      • Lust (30:1-4), Lying (30:5), strayed from God (30:6-8), treated servants unfairly (30:13), refused to help the poor, widows, and orphans (30:16-23), put trust in money or gloated about wealth (30:24-25), idolatry (26-28), mocked enemies or sought revenge (30:29-30), tried to hide sin (30:33-34) – Job claims he did none of these things.
    • Job questions how he could even face God. What could he possibly say to redeem himself?


A – Application:

I was reminded of a podcast that I listened to not too long ago by Pastor Levi Lusko, author of “Through the Eyes of a Lion.”  He was speaking at Willow Creek in Chicago at their midweek service on how he overcame the loss of his daughter to an asthma attack.  It was a tragic time in his life, and yet, God has used his story in powerful ways to give others strength and hope to get through their grief.lion

One of the points he made stuck out to me so profoundly. Pastor Lusko was discussing how the devil has to ask God to do anything that is evil, and God must allow it.  There is no way we can know why God allows the things he does.  But he says, “everything God allows has the backdoor purpose of accomplishing what he wants, not what the devil wants.”

Levi Lusko then shares briefly the stories of Joseph, Job, and Jesus.  He shows how evil was allowed to enter their lives, stripping them of their homes, wealth, family, and, in Jesus’ case, his life. But in each situation, God controlled everything that happened and worked it into something far more amazing than we could have thought and defeated Satan’s plan.

Joseph was sold by his brothers, but later became second to Pharaoh and saved millions from starvation due to a famine in the land. He was later reunited and reconciled with his family. Job was stripped of his wealth, family, and health, but (spoiler alert!) God granted him twice as much as he had before.  Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified, yet God raised him from the dead to save the rest of the world for the wages of sin.  Amen!

I’ve also seen it in my life.  When I was sixteen I completely tore my ACL playing basketball.  I was a Junior in High School and the level of play was starting to get good. I was getting good.  Then an injury knocked me out for the rest of the season of basketball and, my favorite sport, volleyball.  I was devastated.

What was I supposed to do now?  How was I ever going to recover and be as good as I would have been? Will I ever play sports again? Why me?

Then I went through Physical Therapy and fell in love! I had so much fun at my sessions. I was amazed at how my knee could go from completely immobilized to full range of motion.  It was from then on that I wanted to do that. I developed a passion for seeing other people healed through exercise.  It changed the trajectory of my life that I maybe wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

This experience also strengthened my spiritual life.  At that time, a friend of mine, Brenda, reminded me of Romans 8:28 (I know I’ve shared it before, but it’s so good!):

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

anchorAt the time, that was the most tragic thing that had ever happened to me.  It was the first time that I had to question the goodness of God and his plan for me.  I had an idea of what my life was supposed to look like, and all of a sudden, with one bad twist of my knee, my life changed.

This was an opportunity for the devil to swoop in a turn my thinking away from God and towards him instead.  I could have decided to leave all that God had for me in that moment.  I could have stated that he clearly doesn’t love me, why would this have happened if he did? So could Joseph, Job, and Jesus.

But that verse, “God causes everything to work together for the good.” I clung to that promise like a lifeline.

What would have happened if I didn’t go through that surgery?  Where would I have ended up?  What would have happened if Joseph’s brothers didn’t sell him into slavery?  What if Jesus never died on the cross?  Where would we be?

God’s powerful and mighty hand is always in control, of the good and the bad.  He has you.  And if you allow him to, he can do amazing things through this tough time in your life.  You have the choice.  You always do.  Either see your situation as a forever dark path, never to be light again.  Or,  let the Creator of Light shine so powerfully that you can’t explain how your life became so blessed out of the dark.

20170624_143109I’m waiting to see the light that comes from the hardship of two miscarriages.  I don’t know what God is going to do with that or how he is going to use that to make good in my life.  There are days when the waiting just seems like too much.  It can be overwhelming.  But there is hope.  There are good things to be thankful for right now.  I can see God moving, in his time.

Are you waiting to see the light through the darkness?  Take hope, God is working, friend.  Trust in his love and his timing.  He has good plans for you.

P – Prayer: 

God, thank you for being in control.  As much as I like being in control, I know that I can’t do it all.  Especially in trials, I can’t get a grip on anything it seems.  But it comforts me to know that you can handle it.  You are working in ways that I can’t yet see. Thank you for the examples of Joseph, Job, and Jesus. Where would we be without their overcoming trials. This gives me hope.

Father, continue to bless me with glimpses of your promises and power.  Don’t let the devil sneak in and disrupt the work you are doing.  Give me strength to overcome his snares and detect his lies.  Amen





Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #11 - Making Good
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
I am like a tree whose roots reach the water.
Job Bible Study

Wisdom and Understanding

When I picture a wise person I see someone who is CONTENT.  Life seems simpler and less chaotic.  Don’t get me wrong, they have stuff going on, but they seem strong in who God is and who they are.  They have what the Bible calls a “fear of the Lord.” I want that all the time! We are going to explore that a little bit more later on.

Sometimes life feels like you are in the eye of a tornado.  Everything is swirling around you and you can’t escape except to hang on to something till it passes.  But that’s the thing, you must go through it.  There are definitely action steps that should be taken,  but sometimes you just need to sit for a second and take a deep breath.  There are times when you need to grasp onto the only visible and substantial thing that God gave us, his Word. Sometimes you need to read and proclaim to your soul who God is and what he can do.  You need to “fear the Lord.” This allows you to experience his wisdom.

Job expresses how amazing God is in these next chapters.  We see a deeper contentment in who God is and what he can do in the middle of troubling circumstances.

S – Scripture: Job 24-28

  • 24:22-24 – “God, in his power, drags away the rich. They may rise high, but they have no assurance of life. They may be allowed to live in security, but God is always watching them. And though they are great now, in a moment they will be gone like all others, cut off like heads of grain.”
  • 26:7-8 – “God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. “
  • 26:14 – “These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” 
  • 27:2-6 – “I vow by the living God, who has taken away my rights, by the Almighty who has embittered my soul– As long as I live, while I have breath from God, my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies.  I will never concede that you are right; I will defend my integrity until I die. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live.”
  • 28:12-15 – “But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean. ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea. It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver.”
  • 28:28 – “And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.'”


O – Observation:

  • Job questions why the wicked aren’t punished and the poor go on suffering.  But he goes on to say that he knows God is watching them and will take care of it.
  • Wickedness may look like it is prevailing – but God will always win.
  • Bildad speaks: no one is innocent before God.
  • Job responds, saying that God is in control of all things and is all-powerful.
    • He vows to never speak against God and maintain his innocence.
    • He questions what hope the wicked have when everything is stripped away – they do not have God to fall back on.
    • Job proclaims that the righteous will have victory over the wicked in the end.
  • Wisdom is more valuable than any riches found on earth and can only be found with God (from God).
    • Fear of the Lord = Wisdom
    • Forsaking evil = Understanding

A – Application:

I needed to search a little more on the subject of true wisdom and understanding.  Here is what I found:

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.” Psalms 111:10

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7

“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.” Proverbs 2:2-11 

“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out 20170725_150534everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.  And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-13

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:5-8

It’s interesting to me, looking back on the rough times in my life and realizing that all that stood were the words of God.  All other wants and needs faded, but the promises of God remained constant.  God was consistent in all he said he was and could do. I had to put my trust in him because that was the only thing that were still consistent.  His words never changed.

On one particular day, October 9, 2016, I wrote these words that God spoke to me:


I was wrestling through the emotions of my second miscarriage at that point.  Work was particularly difficult and I was starting to find that I needed a change.  I felt God calling me to start stepping away, but was struggling to give parts of my job up.  I needed some form of assurance amidst my wavering heart and head state.  These words gave me a mission.  They allowed me to see a path to start walking on.  It seemed simple enough as well. “Feed on my words.” Seek my wisdom.  “Trust in me daily.” God will provide all that I need when I need it. Oh, they were like water to my parched soul.

When life seems like it’s one punch in the face after another, sometimes we need something to grasp on to.  If we can feed on the constant and unchanging words of God, we can slowly build the endurance to stand.  Somehow we get this supernatural strength and faith to make it through or take steps to change our situation.

God’s wisdom is not a secret.  It’s not granted if you are “good enough.”  But you do need to believe without a doubt that God is God and he is all you need. He gave us his Spirit to counsel and guide us.  And he can whisper in your ear far greater ideas and solutions than you can hope or imagine.

I’m not that smart.  I don’t know all the answers.  But I serve and believe in a God who does.  With that, I can accomplish all that he calls me to do and go through.

What do you need wisdom on today?  Have to talked to God about it yet? Have you searched through his Word to see what it says?  Take some time to do that today.  The answers may not all come at once, but my prayer is that you get some sense of clarity or a boldness to step out in faith.

To fear the Lord, to be in awe of all that he can do, is the beginning of wisdom.  Soak in all that God is.  Let that sit on your heart for a minute and be overwhelmed by his amazingness.  Then, go out and do what he has called you to do.  You can do it because you serve a God that has it all.

20170722_194257P – Prayer:

Thank you Lord for all that you are.  You are more than I can hope or imagine.  You give me all that I need when I need it.  Thank you for your unchanging Word that guides me through life.  Lord, speak to those who need to hear you today.  Give them strength, boldness, wisdom, and grace.  Let them know that you are close and guiding their every step.  Thank you God. Amen

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #10 - Wisdom and Understanding
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
The fear of the Lord is true wisdom.
Job Bible Study

Heart Knowledge

I am so thankful that I grew up going to church.  I loved the songs and stories, the crafts and games, VBS and kid’s choir.  My family was originally from Alpena, Michigan and so we would go back there for a week in the summer and do their Vacation Bible School.

Now they went all out! It was called, “The Marketplace,” and people dressed in robes and you were divided into the twelve tribes of Israel and had a tent that you would do activities in.  We got to build birdhouses, paint, hammer coins to purchase items at a store, and even go to a jail they built.  It was great! It was like a mini camp.

My family also went to summer camp at Camp Lake Louise near Gaylord, Michigan.  This place became a safe haven for me.  It was in the middle of nowhere, and escape from the real world.  There was a “blob,” kayaks, tons of crafts, rustic cabins, and a cook that snuck oatmeal into every meal somehow (to keep ups regular and not clog the toilets so much, haha!). My friendships with other believers and my faith grew so much here.  I understood the importance of having a strong community of people who believed the same things and knew that it was a crucial part of life outside of camp.


Everything about those events were great.  But a lot of it was people telling me about God and faith. I learned verses and concepts of the Bible, but since I’ve lived some years outside of highschool and college, I’ve begun to understand the importance of not only “head knowledge” but “heart knowledge.”

The head knowledge, I believe, can set a firm foundation, especially when our hearts are under strong emotions during trials and temptations.  If we have a clear idea of what the Bible says, it can lead us to a firm ground.  When we know the promises of God, we can have hope during hard times. But the heart knowledge is what draws me closer to God.  It gives me the opportunity to create a relationship with God that is my own and not just stories of other faith warriors from the Bible or real life.

So there has to be a combination of heart and head knowledge.  It can’t just be one or the other or else we will be on shifting sand when trials come.  I think Job sets an amazing example of this in these next chapters.  He has friends who are spouting out head knowledge about the Lord.  But Job seems to know God on a deeper level.  It’s personal and relational, not just liturgical.  There is something different about his faith and knowledge of God. See what I mean in the verses below:

S – Scripture: Job 21-23

  • 23:10-14 – “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.”

gold sunO – Observation:

  • Job seems to be getting a little impatient waiting for God’s answer (21:4).  He questions why the wicked get to live great lives while cursing God.  He inquires how God works and judges: both men, wicked and righteous, end up in the dust, side by side in the grave (21:26).
  • Eliphaz answers, still claiming that Job is wicked and being punished.  He says that God will restore Job if he repents (22:23).
  • Job is searching for God to plead his case (23:3-4) but is terrified of God because he can do whatever he pleases (23:13-17).
  • God sees everything that happens, even in the midst of our trouble.  He’s got it under control.
  • Job knows God on a deep level.  It’s a relationship.  He has walked with God and been righteous before him in words and deed.

A – Application: 

I absolutely LOVE the verse in Job, “And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” What a beautiful imagery and example of hope in the middle of such a difficult trial.  To come forth as gold in the end, oh, how good that will be.

I did a little research into how gold was refined and made into what we see as beautiful pieces of jewelry or decor.  The process uses acid to break down the gold as much as possible, removing the impurities.  Gold is usually a solid thing, but as it’s being filtered, it’s a liquid; it doesn’t look like the shiny and glimmering gold we see.  Sometimes it takes multiple refinements to get all of the impurities out.  Then, it is placed in 2000 degrees and turned back into a solid.  It takes on it’s natural, but new form and can be molded into whatever the end product is.

pure goldThis really is a great picture of going through trials.  The essence of who God made us is still always there, but the refining works to clean out the things we have picked up along the way that don’t fit in to our purpose. We go through what I call, an “unlearning phase.” The process can take a long time and a few too many trials it seems.  It takes effort and patience.

Acid and fire don’t feel good, but they produce a magnificent result.

Job knew something that the others didn’t.  He felt so strongly that this was a test from God and not a punishment.  He knew that all he needed to do was speak to God and plead his case.  This glimmer of hope shines through that when this is all finished, he will be refined and life would be as beautiful as gold again.

When we know whose hands we are in, and hold firmly to who he is and his promises, we can experience a bold and unwavering hope like Job.  When we can look beyond our current struggles and see a possible purpose, or a potential goal to be achieved, we can withstand the pain and suffering.  When we connect our head knowledge to our heart knowledge, we travel deeper into God’s love and comfort. That’s not to say it isn’t challenging, but it gives a supernatural strength to endure.

I mentioned before that I got tattoos as reminders for myself.  They are small and can stay mostly hidden on the inside of my ankles.  They aren’t for anyone else but me.  One is an anchor, to remind me of who holds me (Hebrews 6:19).  The other is a helm, like that on a ship, to remind me of who guides me (Psalm 23).  They are on my ankles to show me that I can stand tall and strong in to midst of my struggles. At a time in my life, I needed constant reminders of those things.  They gave me hope, patience, endurance, and strength.

Most importantly, they gave me purpose.  I look down at them and feel that if I hold on and stick to my faith and to God, that I will come out as gold.  There will be great purpose and redemption and a way to bring glory to God because of my story.  If I can show how strong, loving, and gentle God can be in the midst of tragedy, and that gives someone else hope, then I will endure whatever he allows me to go through.

It took a long time to be able to confidently say that.  But now, it’s a constant mantra that keeps me going.  It keeps me wanting to get better and stronger in God so that others can see him through me.

raysIt’s activity time!  Go stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself in the eyes and say, “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.” Say it again.  Now again.  One more time.  Okay, again.  Repeat until it sinks in.  Write it down and post it wherever you can see it as a constant reminder. We need these sometimes (and not always in the form of permanent tattoos!)

I pray that even if there are tears streaming down your face,  you can feel hope today.  My deepest wish is that you can take the Words of God and plant them deep in your heart no matter how hard it is.  I want you to know that you will come out as gold, beautiful and magnificent.

A psalm of David.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.  Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.”      

Psalms 23

P – Prayer:

God, there are tough things in this world.  Dark and evil things that push us down and we feel like we are crumbling.  But you know all of our hurts and carry all of our tears.  Thank you for constantly working in our lives and especially for working to make them good.  I pray that each person today will feel a glimmer of hope.  And that they will set their gaze on you and hold tight to your life-giving words.  You are so good.  Amen




Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #6 - Heart Knowledge
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
I will come out as pure as gold.
Job Bible Study

But As for Me

Do you ever feel like there are too many voices speaking at you? You’ve got close family and friends, coworkers, bosses, pastors, the media, teachings and dogmas, cultural norms, the little voice in your head, God’s whisper, and more. Is there a voice that is louder than the others?  Is it positive or negative? How do you filter out all of the erroneous noise and focus on the most important? Do you have a process to help you separate what’s right and wrong when making a decision?

Job is being bombarded with useless chatter.  His wife has betrayed him, society mocks him, and his friends clamor on with counterproductive platitudes.  Job’s responses give us a glimpse as to how to decipher what is true through the noise and keep a firm foundation in the Lord.

S – Scripture: Job 17-20

  • 17:3 – “You must defend my innocence, O God, since no one else will stand up for me.”
  • 17:11-13 “My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken. These men say that night is day; they claim that the darkness is light. What if I go to the grave and make my bed in darkness?”
  • 17:16 – “No, my hope will go down with me to the grave. We will rest together in the dust!”
  • 19:6-8 – “But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in his net. I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me. I protest, but there is no justice. God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.”
  • 19:10 – “He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished. He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree.”
  • 19:25-27 – “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”

20170706_214622O – Observation:

  • Job cries out for God to stand up for him.  Still, in all his anguish, he trusts in God and his hope is in him alone.
  • Bildad and Zophar go on about how it’s because Job is wicked that he is in these circumstances.
  • Job responds that the issue is between him and God.  God has wronged him, yet still claims him as his Redeemer.
    • Redeemer, according to Blue Letter Bible, means “one charged with the duty of restoring the rights of another and avenging his wrongs.”
  • God is constant, a firm foundation, and victorious over sin and death.
  • When we build our foundation on God, it will stand.
  • We can be so wrong about things, especially pertaining to God: his character and ways.

A – Application:

The last couple of verses in Chapter 19 are so beautiful and such a good revelation of faith.  You see a blameless man stripped of all that he has by the hand of God and still he knows that the only way to restitution is through him.  His destroyer is also his redeemer. The only thing that Job has left to hold on to is that God will stand up from his Judge’s seat and save him. Whether in this life or in death, he will be with God.  His soul will rest in the presence of the Lord.  He is crushed and feels uprooted but has a firm foundation of faith.  

But Job had to clear out all of the other noise in order to remember how great and redeeming God is.  He had to shut up his friends and focus on what his foundation of faith was saying to him.  

20170718_205156How often do I turn immediately to a friend or comfort or distraction instead of facing God with my problem?  Sometimes going to God is a last option after I’ve tried everything else.  Maybe it’s because I want control or that I think it’s too small (or too big) of an issue for even God to handle.  Then I get anxious and panicky at what the future might hold.  I spiral down till I think the world is going to end before I realize that I should just go to God first.  

So how do you clear the noise and condition yourself to go to God first?  It’s still something I’m putting into practice, but here are a few things that I have learned.

  1. I had to start ridding the excess noise from my daily life, not just in trying situations.  For me, I want to keep the dialogue between me and God open throughout the day.  So, I try to keep the TV off, news off, distracting or discouraging media out, my cell phone on silent and the notifications for all of my social media off, and set designated times for those things instead.
  2. I start filling my day with opportunities to get to know God’s voice. In order to do this, I go right to the source, the Bible. It is God’s spoken word.  (You know how moms can pick out their kid’s voice and cry? There is an attachment to their child that tunes in immediately the sound of their words or exclamations.  I want that with God.) I want to know instantly when he is speaking to me and be sensitive to his promptings at all times.  So I had to carve out time to learn what his voice sounds like.
  3. I keep reminders out in front of me of words he has spoken to me through his word or during prayer so I can always see them.  Depending on what I need to hear in that season, I write down the verses that keep me close to God and remind me of his promises. (I’ve even gone as far as getting tattoos that remind me of his promises, but you don’t need to go that far. A simple notecard at your desk or on your mirror will do.)

Here are some of my favorites:

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night– but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Psalms 139:7-12

“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

20170703_173331“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Often, I need the reminder that God loves me so much that I cannot escape his presence, no matter how far gone I feel.  I need to remember that I can go to him with anything and he will guard my heart and give me peace. The steps that I can take before a trial comes, building a firm foundation and knowing the sound of God’s voice, can literally save me.

It’s hard to clear out the noise, but it saves so much time spent in worry and anxiety.  It sets your feet on solid ground during those rough patches of life.  I urge you to take a small step today to remove some of the distracting noise and open the opportunity for God to speak directly to you. Hint: it’s usually a whisper.  

P – Prayer:

Thank you Lord for loving me enough to speak to me.  Forgive me for the times that I have allowed other voices to fill my head and heart before yours.  It’s always so much better when I come to you first.  Will you show me the things in my life that need the volume turned down? I want to hear your voice and be open to what you have to say to me at all times. I want to be able to say, when trials come, “But as for me, my redeemer lives.” I want to stand firm on your foundation, sure that you will save me.  Help me to know your voice.

God, would you speak to me today?  Some days, like today, I just need to know that you are there.   You are so good, and you do good things. Amen

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #8 - But As For Me
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
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But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.
Job Bible Study

Controlled Burn

Have you ever seen a controlled burn? When I was young I would see the charred trees and smoke and feel so sad that trees had to die, and for what? It was hard to imagine that place ever being alive again.
As years went by, and I would drive past the place that was burned, I now saw a flourishing forest. Its new vegetation blooming in beauty and abundance.
I’ve since learned that that is a technique used to strip away old growth to make room and give light to new. Clearing away the overgrowth allowed sun and rain to reach areas that needed it. Beauty came through the ashes even years after.
We are catching Job after a big burn. There a still a few coals smoldering and the smoke is still heavy over him. How much longer do we have to wait to see the beauty of life again? Is that even possible?

S – Scripture: Job 14-16

  • 14:1-2 – “”How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.”
  • 14:7-10 – “Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they?”
  • 14:13-16 – “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.”
  • 16:5-6 – “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief. Instead, I suffer if I defend myself, and I suffer no less if I refuse to speak.”
  • 16:17 – “Yet I have done no wrong, and my prayer is pure.”
  • 16:19-21 – “Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high. My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends.”

20160925_153530_resizedO – Observation:

  • Job’s hope is gone in life and death. He questions how life would be different when there is knowledge of life after death. The struggle would all be worth it then.
  • Job feels trapped between an rock and a hard place. Whether he defends himself or speaks, he will continue to suffer. He asks God to just let him die until his anger passes and then bring him new life. Then God would protect him rather than stake out a wait for him to sin.
  • What we say and do for friends in dire need really matters. We have the opportunity to convict and condemn or uplift and carry through. Our words are powerful in those moments.
  • Job’s only witness is God. His only advocate is in Heaven. He longs for a mediator – someone to be a witness and helper in his case.

A – Application:
Have you ever been caught in a circumstance that you felt you could never get out of? Have you ever felt that happiness was never going to be possible again? Or maybe that God’s goodness had run its course in your life?
I’ve been in that spot. It’s a rough place to be in. I remember going to church and not even be able to sing one of my favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art.” The words:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Those words were more than my heart and faith could even fathom. I would just stand there and cry. Is God ever going to be good in my life again? I wanted to believe it, but I couldn’t see any light in my darkness.

20170628_115137_resizedIt was the week before Easter and had been about three months since my miscarriage. I smack my hand on my head now because I remember, in a common moment of anguish saying, God can’t possibly know what I’m going through, he never lost a child!

Pause – I’m sorry…what was I thinking? What the what?!?

Then the verse was read that Good Friday,

“At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, ema sabachthani?’ which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

The Pastor spoke and mentioned how Jesus used the term, “My God,” instead of “My Father.” He made the point that in that moment, God had turned his face away from his son, he lost him to death. He had abandoned him.

I had never really paid as much attention to God as I had to Jesus’ act on the cross. The torment and anguish in watching his Son suffer and die such a horrific death I can’t even imagine. How agonizing it must have been even though he new the purpose and the outcome. How did he do it?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

God had gone through what I had. He had lost his child. My heart changed that day. It had a glimmer of hope that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I realized that because of what Jesus did, no matter what happens in this life, I have eternal life through him. I do have life after death. I can have sunny, glorious, and good days after a time of darkness and drought. A fire can allow the production new life and growth.

20170714_132951_resizedWe now have the Advocate that Job longed for. We now have the witness he proclaimed he needed. We can now enter into the presence of God washed clean from all of the dirt, grim and filth that accumulates in this life.

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20

There is hope for a brighter day. I know it’s dark today. I’ve felt the darkness caving in before. But holdfast to this truth: we have the hope of eternal life, God’s promise, as an anchor for our souls in the midst of the tumultuous waters of this life. Tighten your grip and never let go of that, even if it’s all you can do.

And the final verse:

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

It’s good news that Christ will come again and there will be no more tears or pain. We 20170703_175819_resizedwill be reunited with those lost and our hearts will be full and redeemed. How great is our God, that he would allow the pain of fire (the cross) in order to give us new life and life eternal.

P – Prayer:

Thank you for life. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. It brings hope on the dark days that seem to stretch farther and longer and beyond end. My heart goes out to those hurting today. Can you show them your hope today? Can you give them some bit of comfort in those tough hours? You know our hearts and hurts. Start bringing new life to those burned areas of our lives. Make it a beautiful garden. Amen.


Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #7 - Controlled Burn
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
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My Advocate is there.
Job Bible Study

Wrestling Match

Have you ever felt that God just wasn’t there?  That you were on some island in the middle of the great ocean with emptiness all around you?  It’s dark, misty, quiet.

Questions start to flood your mind.  Everything you have ever known has been turned upside down.  You feel lost.  You question your goodness, God’s goodness, and the purpose of all that is happening.  Is God really there? Does he even exist?

In this passage, Job calls on God to plead his case.  He knows he is innocent and wants to duke it out with God.  He has questions that need answers.  Job is asking to come up to the presence of the Judge.

S – Scripture: Job 10-13

  • 10:1-9 – “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. I will say to God, ‘Don’t simply condemn me–tell me the charge you are bringing against me. What do you gain by oppressing me? Why do you reject me, the work of your own hands, while smiling on the schemes of the wicked? Are your eyes like those of a human? Do you see things only as people see them? Is your lifetime only as long as ours? Is your life so short that you must quickly probe for my guilt and search for my sin? Although you know I am not guilty, no one can rescue me from your hands. “‘You formed me with your hands; you made me, yet now you completely destroy me. Remember that you made me from dust–will you turn me back to dust so soon?”
  • 10:13-15 – “‘Yet your real motive–your true intent– was to watch me, and if I sinned, you would not forgive my guilt. If I am guilty, too bad for me; and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high, because I am filled with shame and misery. And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion and display your awesome power against me.”
  • 12:4-6 – “Yet my friends laugh at me, for I call on God and expect an answer. I am a just and blameless man, yet they laugh at me. People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling. But robbers are left in peace, and those who provoke God live in safety–though God keeps them in his power.”
  • 13:3 – “As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God himself.”
  • 13:23-25 – “Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy? Would you terrify a leaf blown by the wind? Would you chase dry straw?”

wheat in the wind.jpg

O – Observation:

  • It’s almost as if God allows us time to question him, our existence, our circumstance, etc. all to grow closer to him.
  • 12:13 “True wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.”
  • Platitudes are useless and not helpful.
  • Satan will use all his resources to try to pull us away from God – even friends.

A – Application:

In the midst of one of the toughest trials of my life, my mom sent me a beautiful devotional from Oswald Chambers.  You can read the whole thing here.  The point that stuck with me was:

“It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child.”

There are so many questions that run through our minds during a trial.  Our brains race, trying to grasp onto some form of an answer – some form of control.  The question that changed my journey through this wrestling match of why was, “what am I supposed to unlearn?”

This was a turning point for me.  It gave me a mission in my suffering and a way to draw closer to God.  It gave me permission to question my relationship with him and break down the ideas that I had formed about him.  I began to see him differently and my affinity towards him deepened.

You see, my faith had been stripped down to its very core.  It was to the point that I questioned if God was even there.  My brokenness brought me to the most simplified version of faith.  In that moment of deepest grief I could only say that I believed there was a God and that he was my God.

mustard seed“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20

From that, I experienced an unexplainable sense of grace and peace.  I was a child who could only lay in the hands of her Father and just breath.  Tears stream down my face just remembering how gentle and gracious God was in that moment.  So tender for my aching heart.

It didn’t answer all of the other questions in my head, but answers weren’t really what I needed.  I needed a gracious, loving, and gentle Savior that I could just rest in.  I needed to quiet myself enough to just feel my heart beat and breath flow.

Job was calling for God’s presence to plead his case.  He laid out all of his questions, everything on his heart.  We don’t have a conclusion yet, but it’s coming.


For now, whatever you are going through, ask yourself, “what is God calling me to unlearn?”  What parts of my faith need to be stripped away, so all that is left is what God wants there.  It only takes a mustard seed size of faith for God to move.  If you feel that’s all you have, that’s enough for God to work.  Rest in his gentle and loving arms.  Surrender enough to feel your heart and your breath beat through you.  Allow yourself to be raw and broken and a child. Know that the life-giving Father is caring for you right now.


P – Prayer:

God, waiting is hard.  My mind just won’t settle.  My heart races and I feel like I’ve lost all control. Set my feet on solid ground.  Help me to rest in you and gentle grace.  Settle my heart and mind on the simplest form of who you are. Amen.



Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #6 - Wrestling Match
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
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Tell me, what have I done wrong?
Job Bible Study

Utterly Helpless

Have you ever tried to wrap your head around who God is?  He is forgiving, yet just.  Loving, yet he has a righteous anger.  Gentle, yet he is powerful enough to part seas.  Kind, yet jealous.  He provides all we need but can take it all away. He is in control, yet life looks chaotic.  God is so much more than I can even imagine.  Aaah! It boggles my mind!

He is almighty and sovereign.  God sees all, hears all, knows all, and is in all things.

This understanding (or lack of) produces fear and amazement of God.  He has the power to destroy nations in a single move, yet he loves each of us individually and is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).” He can move mountains, yet cares about my heart and gives me purpose.

Job understood that too.  In this section of scripture, Job shows us true vulnerability and honesty in his anguish.  Let’s see how his story unfolds.


S – Scripture: Job 6-9

  • 6:12-13 – “Do I have the strength of a stone?  Is my body made of bronze? No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success.”
  • 6:29-30 – “Stop assuming my guilt, for I have done no wrong.  Do you think I am lying?  Don’t I know the difference between right and wrong?”
  • 7:11 – “I cannot keep from speaking.  I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.”
  • 7:17-19 – “Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough to swallow?”
  • 9:2 – “But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?”
  • 9:10 – “He does great things too marvelous to understand.  He performs countless miracles.”
  • 9:14-15 “So who am I, that I should try to answer God or even reason with him?  Even if I were right, I would have no defense.  I could only plead mercy.”
  • 9:19-20 – “If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one. If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him to court? Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked.”
  • 9:33-35 – “If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength.”

O – Observation:

  • Job responds to Eliphaz by asking why he shouldn’t be allowed to complain; that he is innocent.  He wishes to just die, feels weak, and his friends are no help.
  • Job cries out to God.  He hates his life and doesn’t want to go on living.  He questions what he has done to deserve this.
  • Bildad chimes in, claiming that Job’s children and their sin are the cause of this tragedy.  If Job would just ask for forgiveness, then God would restore him.  Job must have forgotten about God.
  • Job replies with questioning why God would even listen to him.  God is in control, all-powerful, and the almighty judge.  He petitions his innocence again but feels it doesn’t matter.  Job desires a mediator.
  • We are all bent towards sin; none are innocent (Genesis 8:21 and Romans 3:23).  In this case, we know that God wasn’t punishing Job for his sin.  However, it is an easier explanation to grasp  than God just allowing it to test Job.
  • We don’t understand God and all his ways.  He was revealed certain promises, some conditional, but how he and the world work is still a mystery sometimes.


A – Application:

When I read this, I picture Job, the defendant, in a courtroom, huddled on the floor in a pained and pitiful heap.  God is the judge, Job’s friends are the witnesses, Satan is the prosecutor, and I am in the crowd watching this unfold.  There is an palpable tension in the room.

God, the Judge, is silent and observing. Satan is sitting back in his chair, relaxed, legs crossed, with a victorious grin on his face. We have heard Eliphaz and Bildad, Job’s friends, speak that he must be guilty of something, or why else would something like this happen. Job cries out that he is innocent, but that it doesn’t matter anymore.  Life is pointless and he has no strength or will to go on.  His anguish penetrates the audiences heart.  He pleads with the Judge to just let him die.  Satan’s grin grows wider.

Job realizes that he has no defense.  If he speaks, he will be found guilty.  His words would betray him.  The Judge is too powerful and too sovereign to care about his insignificant life. Then he looks to the crowd and asks for a mediator, someone to speak truth about him in order to bring reconciliation between the Judge and himself.

Have you ever felt this way? Trapped in the box of your situation or tragedy, seeing no way out.  Wanting to just leave it all behind, or even die to escape the sorrow and suffering?  You see God as a mighty hand that only crushes and condemns despite you trying to live a righteous life?

Job knew he would be found guilty of something when brought before God the Judge.  But we know that’s not why his life was confiscated from him.  Do believe that’s true today in your life?

darkI used to believe that if I didn’t do anything wrong, then nothing bad would or should happen to me.  If I stayed on the safe “straight and narrow,” I wouldn’t suffer pain. I feared doing wrong, because I didn’t want to be punished by God. Don’t get me wrong, there are consequences to certain choices we make.  I am not perfect and I understand the shame and guilt and hurt caused by making bad decisions.  But there are some tough things that have happened in my life that were completely unexpected.  I thought I was doing everything right, and then BAM! the rug was pulled out from under me.  I was left in shambles on the floor.

I’ve spent nights wracking my brain as to what I did wrong and how I could have maybe done some things differently.  What I learned was that some things just happen and that God may have allowed them to. I had to come to terms with that and decide how to view God and my faith.

The argument of whether it’s just to test our faith, I don’t think I can answer.  Trying to tackle why certain things happen and why others don’t is beyond what I can imagine.  The sure thing that I know, and that I have to hold on to is Romans 8:28 –

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Our loving, all-powerful, and mighty God can take the good and the bad, the dark and the light, and transform it into a beautiful masterpiece.  I used to think that those low points, or trials in my life, would look like blemishes and scars on my life’s painting.  Black ink drops that ruined the end product.  What I’ve found, because of God’s redeeming grace, is that those splotches have been worked into the painting, swirled in and composed around, making them part of the story and not and accident.


One of my art teachers in high school once challenged us to not use an eraser.  They weren’t even allowed in class.  You had to work the mistakes and blemishes into the drawing.  There was a creativity that bloomed because of it.  The art became perfect with all of it’s imperfections.

God is our masterful Creator.  Just look outside at the flowers, trees, sky, water, the sun, moon, and stars and see how majestic it all is. The lines aren’t straight and there may be petals that are torn, but it is still stunning. That same God who created all of those things, in their natural beauty, can do the same with your life.

What Job asked for at the end of Chapter 9 was a mediator.  God has given us that in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit:

“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

Jesus cleansed us from sin, once, and for all on the cross.  He has taken those blemishes away and given us new life.  Christ reconciled the gap between us and God that was due to sin.  We can now come to God freely, without shame, because we have been redeemed.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has comeThe old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The Holy Spirit has opened the communication barrier in our weakness as well.  He speaks for us when we don’t have the words to pray to God. He mediates on our behalf.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Your masterpiece isn’t finished yet.  God is working now to take those ugly parts of your life and make them into something beautiful. You might still see a lot of black splotches on your canvas right now, but the piece isn’t done. I can’t explain why bad things happen, and there are no erasers in life, but I can hold on to the truth of Romans 8:28.  Can you do that today too, friend?  Can you allow God to build something magnificent out of the shambles?  It takes trust, patience, and surrendering your heart and life to God everyday. Somedays it’s harder than others, but give that to God too.  It’s normal to feel weak and hopeless.  But let the Holy Spirit speak for you in your weakness. Hold tight to his promises.

DD5814E0-P – Prayer:

Thank you for Job’s example of trusting in you through his grief.  God, you have power to great to understand.  I can only trust that it is all working together for good.  Keep working on my heart and spirit.  Give me a glimpse of hope today.  I am feeling low and weak.  Show me your goodness and that you can make a masterpiece out of the light and dark in my life. Amen



Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #5 - Utterly Helpless
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
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He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.