Job’s Creed (2)

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“This I know…I shall see God.” Job 19:26 NKJV

Job ends his creed by saying, “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” When Christ returns, your body which sleeps in the grave will be replaced with a glorious Christlike body. And then the promise of God’s Word will be fulfilled: “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust” (Isa 26:19 NKJV). Of all the religions on earth, Christianity is the only one that guarantees the resurrection of your body. And that’s because Christ, our leader, was the only one capable of promising to rise from the dead bodily, and keeping that promise. Rejoice, when they lay you in your grave it will not be the last of you. Paul writes: “I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1Co 15:51-54 NKJV). In that day faith will give way to sight. When a little boy’s kite flew so high it went out of sight, a man standing nearby asked him, “How do you know it’s still up there, son?” Tightening his grip on the string, he replied, “Because I feel the tug!” Do you feel something tugging you heavenward?

Job’s Creed (1)

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“I know that my Redeemer lives.” Job 19:25 NKJV

The patriarch Job survived boils, bankruptcy and bereavement and came out with his faith intact. Let’s look at the creed he lived by: (1) “I know.” When you can say, “I know,” you’re an exclamation point in a world of question marks. Job didn’t say, “I have been told.” What he knew about God, he knew through experience and personal revelation. Is such a life possible? Yes, “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1Jn 2:20 NKJV). You can “know” things about God in your heart that you can’t fully understand or explain. Why? Because they’re spiritually discerned. (2) “That my Redeemer lives.” Though Christ was not yet born, Job caught a glimpse of our pre-existent Redeemer whom Scripture describes as “the Ancient of Days” (Da 7:22 NKJV); the One Micah referred to “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Mi 5:2 NKJV). He existed before He was born, and He outlived His pallbearers. Paul says, “He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2Co 8:9 NKJV). (3)”And that he shall stand at last on the earth.” Job saw what Zechariah the prophet saw: “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives” (Zec 14:4 NKJV).The truth is, the first time Jesus came, He came to save. The next time He comes, He comes to reign. His first coming was to be our Redeemer; His second coming is to usher in His rule as King of Kings. “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13 NKJV).

Marital Happiness

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“Blessed (happy, to be envied…) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant).” Mt 5:3 AMP

When the rosy glow diminishes and reality sets in, what makes some marriages happy while others slide into misery? Luck? Good genes? Hanging tough? Hardly! Marital happiness that transcends changing circumstances is built on the qualities Jesus taught. Let’s look at them: (1) Happy are the humble. “Blessed (happy…) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant).” Pride that’s self-promoting and always demanding its rights brings misery, while humility, self-denial and considering your mate’s needs brings happiness. (2) Happy are the meek: the gentle, patient and kind. Handling your spouse’s struggles with kindness, sensitivity and long-suffering is an expression of love that brings healing into the painful chapters of life and marriage. (3) Happy are the merciful. Sooner or later we’ll inflict injury on one another. Hurt, disappointment and anger will rise up, followed by a desire to make them pay. But just as revenge begets revenge, mercy begets mercy. Mercy isn’t “letting them get away with it.” Treating your spouse mercifully is reciprocal. It creates an atmosphere, where, when you fail, you “shall obtain mercy.” Mercy ends disputes when nothing else works! (4) Happy are the peacemakers. The need to be “right” and “win” only intensifies conflict. In marriage, when one “wins,” both lose! Giving up personal victory to be a peacemaker is ultimate victory. You’d be eternally lost if Jesus hadn’t willingly surrendered His rights for your wrongs. The ring is not the sole symbol of Christian marriage, but the cross superimposed on the ring. Christlike surrender of our uncrucified self promotes marital happiness!

How to Pick the Right Leader

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“They nominated…Barsabbas…and Matthias.” Ac 1:23 NLT

When Judas committed suicide the team of apostles was one man short. So what did they do? “They nominated two men…Barsabbas…and Matthias.” To decide which one was called to take the place of Judas, they used a method known as “casting lots.” It was a system used in biblical times when only a few select people could actually speak with God or hear from Him personally. As a result, Matthias was chosen. You say, “But I’ve never heard of Matthias.” And nobody else has either! He is not mentioned again in Scripture. But Barsabbas, the man who didn’t get the vote, is referred to as one of the leaders who steered the church through some treacherous waters of doctrinal error (See Ac 15:22-23). There are two important lessons for us in this story:

(1) You can know God but you will never be able to figure Him out. So stop trying. You can’t reduce Him to a formula and say, “This is the way He always does it.” Casting lots was a system God may have honored in the past, but when the apostles tried it they didn’t get the results they hoped for. (2) God will speak to you if you are willing to listen. Before leaving them, Jesus had told His disciples that the indwelling Holy Spirit would guide them. “All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me’” (Jn 16:15 NLT). You say, “But how will I know the Holy Spirit has spoken to me?” Because it will produce the results that God wants!

Post-Traumatic Growth (3)

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“My grace is sufficient for you.” 2Cor 12:9 NKJV

One of the classic stories of adversity in the Bible is about Joseph. At the beginning of his life he is the favorite son, envied by his brothers, with dreams of being someone everybody bows down to. Then he’s kidnapped by his brothers and ends up serving as a slave in Potiphar’s house. He loses his home, his culture, his security and his status as favorite son. What does Joseph have left? He is in a strange bed, in a strange house, in a strange land, with no friends, no prospects, and no explanation. But he has one gift- one that makes all the difference. “The Lord was with Joseph” (Ge 39:2 NIV). What happens when you lose everything but God, then find out that God is enough? You experience His presence in a way you never did before! Paul writes: “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…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Ro 8:35-37 NLT). God wasn’t at work producing the circumstances Joseph wanted, He was at work in bad circumstances producing the Joseph that God wanted. Just as a diamond is formed out of common carbon placed under millions of pounds of pressure – so the character of Christ is formed in you by adverse circumstances. So the question is, will you hold up or fold up? When Paul thought he couldn’t stand any more, God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2Co 12:9 NKJV). And do you know what? His grace is sufficient for you too.

Post-Traumatic Growth (2)

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“God intended it all for good.” Ge 50:20 NLT

Rising to a challenge reveals hidden abilities within you that otherwise would have remained dormant. Just as you find out what’s inside a tube of toothpaste when it gets squeezed, adversity reveals what you’re made of. Sometimes we say, “I could never go through what that person went through. I would die.” Then you go through it, and guess what? Your heart keeps beating. Your world goes on. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you have to cope. Wise people have always understood the connection between suffering and growth. Meng Tzu, the Chinese sage, said, “When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man it will place obstacles in the path of his deeds so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.” God could have let Abraham stay in the comfort of Ur, and Moses in the splendor of Pharaoh’s courts. He could have kept Daniel out of the lions’ den, Nehemiah out of captivity, Jonah out of the whale, John the Baptist away from Herod, Esther from being threatened, Jeremiah from being rejected, and Paul from being shipwrecked. But He didn’t. In fact, God used each of these trials to bring them closer to Himself – to produce perseverance, character and hope. It’s said, “The school of hard knocks produces the greatest scholars.” And guess who the teacher is? Adversity! You either face it with God, or without Him. And those without God are watching you. When they see your faith sustain you and God bring you through, they’ll get interested in what you have to say. And not before!

Post-Traumatic Growth (1)

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“Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” Ro 8:37 NLT

Just as there is a condition known as “post-traumatic stress,” researchers are now talking about “post-traumatic growth.” One line of thinking is that adversity can lead to growth. Another is that the highest levels of growth cannot be achieved without adversity. But adversity doesn’t automatically bring growth. Much of the outcome depends on how you respond to adversity. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Sooner or later, the world breaks everyone, and those who are broken are strongest in the broken places.” Sometimes that’s true. But sometimes people write beautiful things and believe them to be true- or hope they’re true – and yet they don’t help. Hemingway himself had a brokenness that ended his life because the pain was too great. On the other hand Joseph, who was betrayed by his family, falsely accused of rape and unjustly imprisoned, looked back and said, “God intended it all for good” (Ge 50:20 NLT). The key to post-traumatic growth is in seeing God in all things, drawing close to Him, trusting Him when you can’t understand the situation, and knowing He only has your best interests at heart. When it comes to serving God there are two sides to the coin: success and suffering. We like the first, and try to avoid the second. But they’re both part of God’s plan. God called Paul into the ministry, saying, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Ac 9:16 NLT). But hard times didn’t make Paul doubt his faith, or the God he served: “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Are You Hearing from God?

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“Then Moses said to the Lord.” Ex 33:12 NKJV

Throughout the book of Exodus we read these two statements: “The Lord said to Moses,” and “Moses said to the people.” There’s an important lesson here. Until you have heard from God, what do you have to say to anybody else that’s worth consideration? Does that mean God won’t use your brain? No, when your thoughts and desires are submitted to Him He will actually think and speak through you. What a privilege. The trouble is, we want to speak without first consulting God and hearing from Him. The people Moses had been called to lead hadn’t heard from God for four hundred years. After ten generations of living without God’s Word, can you imagine the shape they were in spiritually? If you want to know how such a mindset will act, look at their responses every time they had a problem in the wilderness. They wanted to go back to the security of Egypt! This is one of the dangers you will face as a leader. You must love people and listen to them, but you must be led only by God. And unless you know God intimately, when times get tough people will take you back to what’s familiar and comfortable to them. When people want to go back to their old way of doing things, it’s usually because they don’t know God well enough. The litmus test of spiritual leadership is found in the ability to hear from God, then teach people to love God, discern His will, and begin to walk according to it!

Suffering with Grace

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“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ…to suffer.” Php 1:29 NKJV

You need the kind of faith that not only believes God for good things, but also sustains you through bad things. The Bible says, “If you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid…Instead…worship Christ as Lord of your life” (1Pe 3:14-15 NLT). God has foresight but we have only hindsight. So whether the path you’ve been called to walk is rough or smooth, your attitude should be one of “worship,” acknowledging “Christ as Lord of your life.” Joseph’s kidnapping led to the saving of his family. The lions’ den led Daniel to a cabinet position. Christ entered the world by a surprise pregnancy and redeemed it through an unjust murder. Do you believe what the Bible teaches- that no disaster is ultimately fatal? Chrysostom did. He was the archbishop of Constantinople from AD 398 to 404. He gained a following by his eloquent denunciations of corruption in the church. Twice banished by the authorities, he asked: “What can I fear? Will it be death? But to know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth is the Lord’s and its fullness is the Lord’s. Will it be by loss of wealth? But we have brought nothing into the world, and we can carry nothing out. Thus all the terrors of the world are contemptible in my eyes; and I smile at all its good things. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for. Death I do not shrink from.” That’s suffering with grace!

The Way Out

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“He will show you a way out.” 1Co 10:13 NLT

The Bible says, “When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” Maybe you are in a situation – a relationship or a financial condition- that’s not what you wanted. You can lie down and die. But when you don’t- when you show up, when you offer the best you have – something good is happening inside you that far outweighs whatever is happening outside you. Jesus was facing adversity when He told His followers that if they had faith, they could command a mountain and it would be cast into the sea. Now, when your focus is on the mountain, you are driven by your fear. But when your focus is on God, you are made alive by faith. But if you didn’t face the mountain you’d never know that faith was in you, or to what extent. Adversity has a way of changing your values and priorities for the better. When you’re on the treadmill of money, security, or success, and adversity knocks you off, you start seeing the folly of chasing temporal things. And if you’re wise you resolve not to return to your old way of life when things normalize. But the key to accomplishing this is taking action before normal life takes over again. You have a finite window of time to make changes; otherwise you’ll drift back into your old patterns. While the memory of your adversity is still fresh, pray and ask God what changes He wants to make in your attitudes, your relationships, your habits and your lifestyle, and “He will show you a way out.”