Trust and…Arrogance?

I confess that in the past I had a hard time understanding and appreciating the book of Job.  My problem was not that I considered it unfair for God to allow Job to endure such terrible pain and suffering.  It was, to be perfectly honest, a failure on my part to understand the purpose and value of the book.  Job really does help us to know how to look at our own pain and suffering.

A lot could be said about the book in general, but for our purposes here, consider one verse that typifies the main character.  Job responded to some of the things his friends said with this:  Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.  Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him (Job 13:15).

In this verse we see Job’s trust in God, but also a bit of arrogance.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  I have no problem admitting trust in God, but I have to admit that sometimes my trust in God is accompanied by arrogance.  Job would later correct that attitude (Job 42:1-6).

Let us endeavor to have Job’s trust in God and follow his example of repentance.  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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Who Among All the… “gods”?

This was not a good time in Jerusalem.  The Assyrians had invaded and taken captive the northern ten tribes of Israel.  They had continued into the south and had taken several major cities of Judah.  Now, Rabshakeh, a representative of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, stood before the walls of Jerusalem, demanding that they surrender.  He closed his argument with:  ‘Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ (2 Kings 18:35).

The outcome was that when Rabshakeh returned to his master and told him that Jerusalem had not surrendered, and Sennacherib uttered another challenge to God [‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 2 Kings 19:10], the Angel of the Lord struck 185,000 Assyrian soldiers dead while they slept (2 Kings 18:17).

While God does allow us to suffer the consequences of our own actions, and did with Jerusalem which fell less than 150 years later, He still is the Only God.  And He’s on our side if we’re on His!  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Content with Weaknesses

2 Corinthians 12:10:  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  The first part of the verse is puzzling, but it doesn’t get any clearer through the whole verse.  He explains that he can be content with weaknesses because when he is weak, he is strong, but what does that mean?

As always we must read the verse within its context.  And the immediate context of this verse says:  And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9).  “He” is Christ.

Now it makes sense!  Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, but none of our strengths is strong enough to overcome the afflictions of this world, especially the worst affliction (sin).  With the grace of Jesus, my faithful obedience to His will means I can be content with, and strong enough to overcome, whatever this world throws my way.  That’s encouraging!

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Imagine That

I’m glad that passages such as 2 Kings 6:1-7 are in the Bible.  In these verses is the story of a miracle performed by the prophet Elisha in recovering an axe head which had been lost in the river.  It was clearly a miracle that demonstrates the ability of the prophet to work such a miracle, but is that the only reason to include it in Scripture?  I mean, there doesn’t seem to be any other deep, spiritual significance we can attach to this story with any certainty.  It sounds like just a neat incident!

Another example which includes Elisha is found in 2 Kings 13:20, 21.  This passage simply says that Elisha died and was buried and when someone hastily pitched another corpse into his grave, it (he) revived upon touching Elisha’s bones, which again seems only to serve to show that God’s power rested on Elisha in bodily form to the extent that this would happen.  There really doesn’t seem to be any more to say about the passage other than, “Imagine that!”

It encourages me to know that Scripture is written about real people, not fantastical figures of mythology.  When I read passages like this, it becomes easy to imagine myself there and being just as awed at some of the things that happened as those people must have been, although “awed” might not fully describe the reaction of those guys who were burying their friend, when they heard him say something like, “Hey, fellows!  Wait for me!!”

One day, if we are faithful to Him, we’ll get to see even greater things ourselves! Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Your Own Happiness

The apostle Paul makes a very simple point in Romans 14:22:  The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.  Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

First, Paul says do not base your faith on the faith of others.  That doesn’t mean you cannot believe the same things, or have the same faith; it means your faith must be your own.

Second, by obeying this instruction about your faith, you control your own happiness, provided your conviction is not contrary to God’s will.  Of course, we know that the choices some have made that are great examples of faith and faithful service to God, result in circumstances that are decidedly unhappy, e.g. persecution.  Paul’s point here is in reference to spiritual happiness, which is akin to the “blessedness” of the beatitudes, a happiness in spite of circumstances.

So, taken as a whole, this verse tells us that we are each one in charge of our own spiritual (and eternal) happiness.  I find great encouragement in this verse and I thank God for His grace which makes this true.

Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Why, Then, the Law?

Galatians 3:19 begins with a question:  Why, then, the law?  The law in question is the Law of Moses.  In the context, the apostle Paul is explaining the role of the Law of Moses and then contrasting it to the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:1), or the Law of faith (Romans 3:27).

I find encouragement in the existence of law.  The immediate answer to the question posed is that God imposed the Law of Moses because of sin and it looked forward to the coming of the Seed to Whom the promise had been made (Jesus); the promise, basically, is the hope of salvation for all mankind.

The Law served to identify those transgressions, helping us to know when we were contrary to God’s Will.  The real word of encouragement, however, is that the Seed has come and we now have the opportunity to realize the hope of eternal life.  We still have the Word of Christ to illustrate to us the Will of God, not only telling us when we have transgressed His Law, but now giving us the ability to be set free (John 8:31, 32).

That, then, is why the law!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Hope Firmly Grounded

In 2 Corinthians 1:7 the apostle Paul wrote:  and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.  In reading through the first chapter of this epistle, it is easy to see that comfort is a major theme.  However, if all we read is this verse we may be a little hesitant about that phrase “sharers of our sufferings.”

If someone says something nice to us and then throws in something that sounds like, “Come on, it won’t be that bad!” most of us will hesitate.  If you have to convince me that it isn’t that bad, that tells me that it will seem to be every bit “that bad.”  So, what does Paul mean?

When we read through the whole context it becomes clear that Paul knows all of us suffer, and he wants us to know that just as we all suffer, or we “share” in suffering, we can share in the comfort that is available to all.  There!  That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates