Tag Archives: perspective

what can we learn from job’s friends?

When Job’s friends heard of his difficulties, they went to be with him. The first few chapters of Job tell us they took two actions.

Job’s friends were with him in a difficult time.

Chapter 2 records Job’s friends coming. They showed up at a difficult time. They didn’t leave Job all alone as he suffered. They were there with him as he grieved. At first, they said very little, but their presence said much.

Scripture encourages us to be there for one another. We are to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Sometimes, we just do not have words to help our friends, and that is okay. Our presence can speak volumes. It was actually when Job’s friends started to talk, they made a mistake.

Job’s friends came across as judgmental.

Job’s friends determined it had to be his fault. They blamed him for the pain he was experiencing. They approached the problem with a judgmental attitude. In many ways, Job’s friends were trying to find the speck of dust in his eye while they may have had a plank hanging out of their own eye.

Scripture reminds us to not be judgmental. Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge.” It is true good friends should speak truth into one another’s lives, but this should always be done in a gracious manner.

Colossians 4:6 implores, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Job says when we are down, we should always have the loyalty of our friends to count on. He remarks in 6:14, “For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend;
So that he does not abandon the fear of the Almighty.”

With Jesus as our friend, you and I can always count on this loyalty. Proverbs 18:24 says Jesus sticks closer than a brother. He will always be there to speak truth into our lives in a gracious way.

Job’s friends were not perfect, nor are we. Perhaps we can better our friendships from looking at how Job’s friends responded to his difficult season. How can you be a better friend today?

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do we respond like job?

Imagine waking up one morning rich, and by the end of the day, you had nothing. All of your wealth and possessions had been taken away in a single day. It happened to Job. In a single day, everything he possessed was lost. Not only did he lose his wealth, he lost his family. There’s having a bad day, then there’s having a day like Job experienced. The Bible records it was one disaster right after another.

Job 1:13-19 record the events, 13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While it is hard to put ourselves in Job’s shoes, ask yourself how you might respond in this situation. Job certainly responded in a faithful way. He responded in a way worthy of imitation.

Verses 20-21 record Job’s response, 20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
    and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
    and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Job recognized all he had came from the Lord. Apart from the Lord, he would have nothing.

While they may not be to the extreme of Job’s, we will experience times in life that are less than ideal. How do you respond in those times? Ask the Lord to help you develop an attitude like Job.

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don’t miss christmas

A father and son enjoyed collecting art. They enjoyed attending art auctions together, and the two had amassed a stunning collection. Paintings by famous artists lined the walls of their living room, and the two spent much time pursuing their hobby.

One day the son received word he had been drafted, and he was to report to basic training before heading overseas. A few months later, early December to be exact, the father received news his son had been killed.

Still absorbing the shock, the father decided to spend Christmas day alone, but as he was sitting in his easy chair, there was a knock at the door.

The man opened the door to find a tall, young man standing there with a package under his arm. “Good morning sir,” the young man said, “may I come in?”

The father invited the young man into the house, and the young man began to explain, “I knew your son. I’m actually the one he was saving when he was shot. I know you like art as I do, so I wanted to give this to you.”

He unwrapped the package to reveal a portrait of the father’s son. “It is not the fanciest painting. I did it myself, and I thought you would enjoy having it.”

The father quickly jumped up to rearrange his collection giving the portrait of his son a prominent place. He placed it above his fireplace directly across from his easy chair. The father could gaze upon his son every time he sat in the chair. The father and soldier spent Christmas day together talking and laughing before parting ways.

Years later, the father passed away, and he left instructions in his will to have his art collection auctioned on Christmas day. Many collectors from around the country arrived to bid on the collection.

The crowd was upset when they realized the first painting on the block was the portrait of the father’s son. The auctioneer tried to move the painting for several minutes before a neighbor finally bid $10.

“I knew the boy, so I’d like to have the painting,” the woman said.

“Going once. Going twice. Sold,” came the auctioneer’s voice as the crowd cheered wildly.

“Now we can get on with the good stuff,” they snorted, but they were shocked when the auctioneer slammed his gavel declaring the auction over.

“How is it over,” the crowd demanded. “We didn’t even have a chance to bid on the good paintings.”

The auctioneer explained the father’s instructions were to give the whole collection to the person who bought the portrait of his son.

God’s Christmas Gift

Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own son, but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Don’t miss the true gift of Christmas.

People search for peace and hope in many places. Shiny packages of all kinds contain promises of peace and hope, but they are empty or fall short. True peace and hope are found in God’s Christmas gift. “Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you,” the angel told the shepherds. He is Jesus.

As you hustle and bustle this year, take a moment to find and reflect on the true gift of Christmas. Whoever gets the son, according to God, gets everything else.

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waiting on christmas

A couple of years ago I was doing some Christmas shopping at Kohl’s. Items in hand, I headed to the front of the store to pay, but the checkout line started there, wove its way through the store, and stopped at the back of the store. I found a nice associate holding a sign which read, “Line Starts Here,” so I got in line. A few minutes later the line had moved, but it seemed to be very little. Some more time passed, and I was in the middle of the line. Line in front. Line behind, and the nice guy holding the sign was out of sight. All I could do was wait. Wait until it was my turn to pay.

While most of us do not like it, waiting is a part of life. We wait to pay. We wait at the doctor’s office. Elevate our stress and anxiety, and it seems like we wait even longer. We can’t get around the dreaded wait.

The Bible tells us Simeon and Anna waited a long time for the first Christmas. In chapter 2, Luke introduces us to these two faithful believers, and tells us they were eagerly anticipating Christ’s arrival. Simeon’s exact age is not revealed. He is only referred to as an elderly man, so we can assume he had been waiting for Jesus for many years. Anna is 84-years-old, and Luke says she has been coming to the temple daily for 60 years awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. That’s 60 years of watching, hoping, and waiting.

Simeon and Anna were masters at waiting. Doing the same thing daily for 60 years. There may have been moments of discouragement, but they kept waiting because of their faith.

I waited in the Kohl’s line until it led me to the front of the store where I discovered a beehive of activity. There were 4 cashiers and 4 associates putting items in bags. Other associates were running from place to place to replace damaged items and make sure shoppers had exactly what they wanted. One person was breaking the line into 4 parts to ensure a smooth transition to the checkout. Much activity was happening that I missed when I was standing in the back and middle of the store in line waiting my turn.

In the same way, Simeon and Anna waited. They had no idea of the Lord’s activity to prepare for Jesus’ birth. Enemy nations were being conquered. Long seasons of peace were being established. Roads were being constructed for easier travel and people were being prepared. All to fulfill Scripture. Mankind couldn’t see God at work in the moment, but looking back, history teaches us the Lord was hard at work in the days leading up to Christmas.

Simeon and Anna didn’t realize or even understand the Lord was hard at work. They only waited hopefully and faithfully. Could it be the same for us? Could the Lord be hard at work to bring about what we are waiting on? Could it be he just needs us to wait hopefully and faithfully a little longer? When the timing is right and everything is ready, our prayer will be answered, the needed change will succeed, and the other things for which we are waiting will happen.  

Simeon and Anna spent a lifetime waiting, and they were blessed to see Jesus as a baby. Their blessing was worth the wait. It will be worth the wait for us as well. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

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being content

A Content Life

In a 2010 interview, Eunice Sandborn, age 114, said she had a happy life. She didn’t have any complaints. She believed complaining was a choice, and in her 114 years, there were times she had to choose not to complain. Eunice was content as she celebrated her birthday making her the oldest living person in the world.

The Search for Contentment

It seems Eunice had found contentment. We all search for it. Some look for it in a big home, there are those who look for it in how many cars they own, and still others search for contentment in a bank account balance. Being content is a desire we all share, and Scripture encourages us to find our contentment in the Lord.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “Don’t love money. Be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Finding Contentment

Life has seasons of plenty and seasons of need. The writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord is with us in both seasons. We may even find the most contentment in the leanest of seasons.

The words of Hebrews 13:6 point to the complete reliability of God and his promises. God’s people can count on him no matter what comes.

Remember, wherever you are in life today, the Lord is saying to you, “I will never fail you. I will not abandon you.”

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Unusual, but Effective.

The Lord arranged for a fish.

Jonah’s story is interesting. It shows us the power and patience of the Lord, and it illustrates God works in seemingly unusual ways.

Jonah, while running from God, gets on a boat. The boat encounters a storm, and after much effort, the conclusion is reached the only way to stop the storm is throw Jonah overboard. The sailors throw Jonah overboard and the storm stops. The boat’s crew witnesses the Lord’s power, and worship the Lord.

Meanwhile, Jonah is in the sea, but God makes arrangements.

Jonah 1:17 remembers, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”

Of all the ways the Lord could have helped Jonah in the moment, he sent a fish. He could have used drift wood or a piece of wreckage. He could have allowed Jonah to be close enough to shore to swim. He could have miraculously carried Jonah to shore, but God does not choose any of those methods. He uses a fish; an unusual way which may have not been the most appealing to Jonah.

Jonah’s lifeboat would have been smelly and dirty. Traveling in the digestive system of a large whale would not be the most ideal, but it saved Jonah’s life.

While we’ve not been swallowed by a great fish, we may be able to relate. God helps us in some unusual ways. They may not be ideal or our first choice, but they do provide the help we need.

When we find ourselves in Jonah’s place, how do we respond? Do we grumble because we are being helped in an unusual way, or do we thank the Lord for the resources he is providing?

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Failure Creates a Mosaic

Success takes time.

It took years to construct. The structure was made of only the finest gold, silver, and cedar. The construction had to be solid, and the furnishings had to be beautiful and perfect. Solomon used only the most skilled craftsmen to perform the work. The temple Solomon built for the Lord was a masterpiece. He commented in 2 Chronicles 2:5, “This must be a magnificent temple because our God is greater than all other gods….”

We are God’s temple.

The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 6 that we are the Lord’s temple. In the same way it took time to build the temple Solomon constructed, it may take time to build our lives into the magnificent mosaic the Lord desires. When you feel like a failure, keep in mind…

The temple of our lives is a masterpiece.

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3 Steps to Turn Failures to Successes

An F can serve as the foundation for an A+.

Babe Ruth, Robert Frost, Oprah, Winston Churchill, and many others, including you and me, have something in common. Failure has been a part of the life experience. Perhaps some on the list have reached great success, but it has not occurred overnight. It has taken much work and times of failing to reach the level of success now enjoyed.

Everyone experiences failures in life, and how these moments are handled is up to the individual. Here are 3 action-steps we can take to turn our failures into the starting point for the path to success.

Be honest about the situation.

Be honest, especially with yourself, when failure occurs. This will give you the proper perspective to move forward.

Take advantage of the failure.

Exploit the moment; pick it apart to learn everything you can. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding to help learn from the failure. The most valuable lessons we can learn come from the mistakes we make.

Never use failure as an excuse not to try again.

Keep trying may be the best approach. At one point in his career, Babe Ruth had struck out 1,316 times, but he did not stay in the dugout. It may take several job applications before you are noticed or it may take multiple attempts to run the marathon before you cross the finish line, but success can only come if you keep trying.

Charles Kettering suggested we must learn to fail with intelligence. He commented, “Once you have failed, analyze the problem and find out why because each failure is one more step leading up to the cathedral of success. The only time you do not want to fail is the last time you try.”

What steps are you taking to turn moments of failure into the launch pad for success?

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Are we running after the right ambitions?

“It’s about the people that you love and the places that you saw. Finding peace in the chaos, and beauty in the flaws.”

What are we running after? What are we trying to achieve? Are we always comparing ourselves to the neighbor next door? Beauty in the Flaws by Sophia Scott reminds us it is not the amount of money we make or the status we gain that matters.

The people and places we impact matter. The peace we can find matters. If we spend all our time chasing after money and prestige, we will find ourselves longing for more.

The Bible says Solomon was the wisest person to ever live, and he pursued the meaning of life. He pursued it within money, prestige, hard work, and partying. At the end of the pursuit, he writes these words.

“That’s the whole story. Here, now, is my conclusion: fear God and obey his commands for this is everyone’s duty,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Neighbors First

Neighbors first mindset is modeled by Jesus.

Thursday of Passion Week has two events where we see Jesus placing others first amid much tension.

First, Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room partaking in the Passover meal. They are about to eat, but no one has washed feet. This was a dirty job reserved for the lowest servant in the household, but none of the disciples bothered to do it. Perhaps because they were too busy arguing about being the greatest. It could have been the disciples were so involved in themselves they forgot about washing feet. Jesus, on the other hand, did not.

He wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his disciple’s feet. This would have been upside down logic in the disciples’ minds. They should have been the ones washing Jesus’ feet. Nevertheless, Jesus serves them. He places their needs above his own.

Jesus would have had a lot on his mind in the upper room. He knew what was getting ready to take place. He knew of his betrayal, his arrest, and his crucifixion, yet he served his disciples. Though carrying a heavy load, himself, Jesus was concerned about the needs of his disciples. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

Second, Jesus was praying in the garden. He requested some of his disciples keep watch, but they kept falling asleep. In his anguish, Jesus could have scolded the disciples, but he didn’t. He told them to pray for themselves. Jesus had a neighbors first mindset.

We know this was an excruciating time for Jesus. The Bible records Jesus sweating drops of blood as he was agonizing over the cross; however, his mindset remained neighbors first.

You and I find a challenge in these events. We should strive to have a neighbors first mindset. This Easter season may be different than any other in our lifetime. Many of us our carrying heavy loads as we navigate through an uncommon time. This is more reason to have a neighbors first mindset.

By having a neighbors first mindset, you and I can help one another get through this historical time. We can check on one another, pick up supplies for one another, and encourage one another. All this can be done while maintaining social distance, and a neighbors first mindset does make a difference.

Just ask Amy McDonald. Amy was headed to the store a few days ago, and she stopped to check on an elderly neighbor. The neighbor needed groceries, so Amy obtained the list. She stopped at two stores and returned with the requested items, but something seemed wrong.

Amy spent some time with her neighbor, and it turns out the lady was having a heart attack. She was having what is known as the “Widow Maker.” Amy was able to call EMS and the neighbor’s daughter. A life was saved because Amy had a neighbors first mindset.

Here’s more folks with a neighbors first mindset.

We find in the events of Passion Week’s Thursday a challenge to adopt a neighbors first mindset. This mindset makes a difference. Amy’s neighbors first mindset saved a life. What will your neighbors first mindset do today?

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