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Mission Freedom

Freedom from Debt. Freedom through Christ

Job and His Friends (Part 2)

“Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of sin. But if you ask God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Ask the former generation and find out what their ancestors learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold. They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden; it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones. But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’ Surely God does not reject one who is blameless or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more.” Job 8

Bildad’s words sound good and familiar, yet he has no idea what is really going on. God will let him know soon. We should be very careful not to assume what God is doing.

“Then Job replied:

Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Thought they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, and Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be counted. When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet. How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy. Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. He would not let me catch my breath but would overwhelm me with misery. If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him? Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty. Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it? My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey. If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’ I still dread all my sufferings for I know you will not hold me innocent. Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with cleansing powder, you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9

Wow! We have what Job didn’t have. We have a mediator in Christ!

“I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a strong man that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin – though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished. If I am guilty – woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. Why then did you bring me from the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job 10

The pain and agony that Job must have been going through is unimaginable. Even though he was called blameless by God, he doesn’t understand what has happened. He still doesn’t know that it isn’t God doing this to him.

“Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin. Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper that the depths below – what can you know? Their measure is longer that the earth and wider than the sea. If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human. Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than the noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” Job 11

To say we know why God is putting someone through something is arrogance. Yes, we may be able to look back and see with understanding. These guys spoke with eloquence but without wisdom.

“Then Job replied:

Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things? I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered – a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tent of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure – those God has in his hand. But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; whose he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his. He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in the darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.” Job 12

Job continues:

“My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God. You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Hear now my argument; listen to the pleas of my lips. Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal? He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality. Would not his splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him! Listen carefully to what I say; let my words ring in your ears. Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply to me. How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth. You fasten my feet in shackles; you keep close watch on all my paths by putting marks on the soles of my feet. So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” Job 13

More from Job:

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Do you fix your eye on them? Will you bring them before you for judgment? Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep. If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover my sin. But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy a person’s hope. You overpower them once for all, and they are gone; you change their countenance and send them away. If their children are honored, they do not know it; if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it. They feel but the pain of their own bodies and mourn only for themselves.” Job 14

Job is tired of his friends’ blather and simply wants to plead his case before God. Many good lessons from Job about our opinions.

Job and His Friends (Part 1)

Recently I wrote a post that I titled Know the Truth! We Will Be Without Excuse. If you haven’t read it, please consider doing so because this post will make more sense. Sometimes we speak without knowing. Sometimes we judge without understanding. Job’s friends did, and their speaking without understanding should be a lesson for all of us.

This is the beginning of a series of posts about Job and his friends. There is very little in these posts that have been added by me, and I hope you will enjoy and let God speak to you as you read. God Bless!

Job Breaks the Silence

“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day – may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it. That night – may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and rulers of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners. Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3

I can’t say it any better than Job did. How miserable it must have been to have lost everything and be in so much pain with no relief. Somehow, Job never cursed God. How quickly would we turn and curse God with sayings such as, “I’ve tried to live a good life and follow you. And, this is my reward?”

Job’s friends now start to speak.

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

‘If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more. The lions may roar and growl, yet the teeth of the great lions are broken. The lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it. Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, fear and trembling seize me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. Are not cords of their tent pulled up so that they die without wisdom?’” Job 4

Eliphaz Continues:

“Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? Resentment kills a fool and envy slays the simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender. The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among the thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth. For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. Blessed is the one who God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. For six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you. In famine he will deliver you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the wild animals. For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.” Job 5

How many times to we repeat what others have taught us, say it is true, and you should apply it to yourself?

“Then Job replied:

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas – no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me. Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder? Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill. Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life? Then I would have consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One. What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me? Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that stop flowing in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from the channels. Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go off into the wasteland and perish. The caravans of Tema look for water, the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope. They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed. Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid. Have I ever said, ‘Give something on behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, deliver me from the hand of the enemy, rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless’? Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice? Job 6

Do I have the power to help myself stands out!

“Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not their days like those of hired laborers? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more. Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard? When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning. What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? Will you never look away from me or let me alone even for and instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.” Job 7

Job is worn down. He doesn’t understand and he’s pleading with God to forgive him if he has sinned. If Job has, he doesn’t know what sin he has committed.

Will We Never Learn?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’

Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and yourselves will become his slaves. When the day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles.’

When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.’ 1 Samuel 8:6-22

1 Samuel 8

Know The Truth! We Will Be Without Excuse

“Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2

“My dear friends, many false prophets have gone out into the world. So do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God.” 1 John 4:1

“Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words.” Ezekiel 13:7

“Watch out for false prophets. They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15

“But there were also false teachers among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.” 2 Peter 2:1

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross was abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.” Galatians 5:7-12.                                         (Notice that Paul was being persecuted!)

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think godliness is a means to financial gain.” 1 Timothy 6: 3-5

A little over two years ago, October of 2014, I set out with excitement in a ministry that I called Complete Fitness. Over time that excitement has moved from excitement to grief, frustration, burden, and sadness. The more I read scripture, the more burden and sadness I felt. Not because what I was reading was sad, rather what I was seeing.

What I saw was people that want to follow God, but are following false teachers. These teachers and preachers are teaching things that sound good. Frankly, things that most of us WANT to hear, but scripture also warns us of this, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3. Without understanding of Scripture, who doesn’t want to believe God wants them to be healthy? Who doesn’t want to hear God wants you to have wealth? Heck, those things are nice. But, that is not the true gospel.

Will God hold these false teachers accountable? Absolutely, but that doesn’t absolve us from being held accountable as well. We have the Truth at our fingertips. Access to Scripture is easy. And, the only way to know if you are being taught the truth is to compare what you are being taught with scripture. Even what I am teaching! Read Acts 17:11, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Paul wrote most of the New Testament! If the Bereans examined what he was saying, don’t you think we should examine what someone today it teaching?

When I started Complete Fitness I was reading the book of Job. At the time, I didn’t see any significance. Over time I came to realize that Job was a major part of the message if not the message. We will now take some time to study Job. This book of scripture will open your eyes to the truth unless you want to remain willfully blind. False teachers will be with us until Christ returns, but we do not have to fall prey to them. Ultimately, each one of us will stand in judgment and the false teaching we followed will be no excuse. Hell will be filled with people who did not take the time to examine the Scriptures.

Let’s start with Job 1.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.” Job 1:1-5

Are you blameless? Never done anything wrong? I’m not blameless and I have definitely sinned.

Job was wealthy. He had a large family, and he was healthy. Then,

“One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing? Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

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

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

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, 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 all dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:6-21

This is one of the most amazing stories in all of the Bible. If you lost everything you own and all of your children, would you still praise God? If God wants us to be wealthy, how did a man He calls blameless lose his wealth and all of his children in one day? When Scripture and the Bible are so easily accessible, we are without excuse when we follow and believe false teachers. Heck, read what Paul wrote in Romans and these people didn’t have the entire Bible that we have today, “For what may be know about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are WITHOUT EXCUSE. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened their foolish hearts. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images of mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the desires of their hearts to impurity for the dishonoring of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator, who is forever worthy of praise! Amen” Romans 1:19-25

When in college, many of us pulled “all-nighters” in preparation for a final exam. For our careers, we have spent countless hours studying for tests to receive a license. I’m not pointing a finger at you alone on this because I have done the same. Think about this, we study and worry and sweat over a test, yet we know so little about Scripture that we can’t recognize a teaching that will take us to hell? Career or eternity? It’s our choice to be led astray.

As horrible as it sounds to lose your wealth and family in one day, for Job, it was about to get worse. Let’s read on:

“On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before the Him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:1-10

Scripture destroys those that teach the gospel of health and wealth. The only way anyone could possibly believe in this false gospel is not to have read the True Gospel. I’m not saying that there aren’t any wealthy and healthy Christians because there most definitely are, but to teach that health and wealth on this earth is what God wants for us is not only dangerous, it is demonic.

I used to wonder how people could fall prey to these false teachers because their fakeness is so obvious. Yet, millions obviously do follow them because they fill stadiums with thousands, millions watch them on TV, and they sell millions of DVDs and books. Some of these famous teachers live such luxurious lives they make some movie stars and other celebrities look like paupers. Thirty thousand square foot homes, private jets, luxury cars, and expensive clothes. Things that most people covet. But, things that will not do anything for them when they stand before God in judgment.

Today, I don’t wonder how people fall prey because I know. They are not Bereans. They hear what they want to hear and never check what is being taught with Scripture. These wolves love to point out David and Solomon, especially Solomon the wealthiest man ever. What about Paul? He spent his ministry with a thorn in his side, was stoned and left for dead, was imprisoned, and eventually had his head cut off. Peter was martyred in Rome, possibly crucified upside down. James (son of Zebedee) was beheaded. Phillip was scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified. Bartholomew was possibly crucified and some accounts say that he was skinned alive. Thomas was killed with a spear. James (Son of Alphaeus) was beaten, stoned, and killed by being hit in the head with a club. Thaddaeus was crucified. Simon the Zealot was crucified. Only John died a peaceful death. That is faith!

We, in America, live in one of the rarest times in Christian history. As of now, we can speak freely about Jesus. We are starting to see some of those freedoms disappear, but as of now, it is illegal to have your head cut off simply for telling others about Jesus. You might lose your job, be made fun of, or possibly go to jail, but you will at least keep your head!

Back to Job! He had already lost his family and his wealth and now he has lost his health. How bad must he have looked? So bad that his wife told him to forget his integrity and curse God so he could die. Yet, Job refused!

Some of you are following the preachers teaching that you will have health and wealth if you just believe. You can even speak it into existence. You just have to think you will be something and eventually you will. That teaching is much more pleasant to hear than I don’t know what this life will bring for you, but through the blood of Jesus Christ, I know your eternity will be heaven.

We all will one day lose our health through old age or some other way, and everyone will lose their wealth that is stored in bank accounts when they die. What happens after you die is forever! Will you continue to follow false teachers? I pray that you read Scripture, learn the truth, repent and turn away from your sins, and believe in your heart as well as speak with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord!

As if Jobs troubles weren’t enough, here comes his friend to “help” him.

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize  with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:11-13

I do believe that Job’s friends loved him. They proved it by traveling to be with him and sitting with him for seven days in silence. They were there for him. These guys were probably even like some of us when they finally began to speak. They said things that sound right, but in the end they were wrong, and God let them know it later.

Job breaks the silence in chapter 3. He is in such misery that he wishes he had never been born and wishes he could die. Who wouldn’t? Still he doesn’t curse God.

Sometime we will go back and look at the conversations that took place between Job and his friends. Here we will not, but I suggest that you do. For most of the book, Job’s friends want Job to ask for forgiveness, and when he tells them that he hasn’t sinned, they do not believe him. Job has become a laughing stock. There is no way these things would happen to an innocent man right? In chapter 16, Job finally says to his friends:

“Job replied, I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I could also speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:1-5

His friends knew nothing! Yet, they thought they did. It’s easy to tell others what they should do when we aren’t them. How many people have told you how to raise your kids, yet they’ve never had one? Your expert advice doesn’t seem so expert when you finally have kids of your own.

Even after Job speaks his friends aren’t finished. Finally in chapter 27 Job says this:

“And Job continued his discourse. As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not say anything wicked, and my tongue will not utter lies. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” Job 27:1-6

We can study more of the words that his friend said in another writing or a talk because what his friends said might sound right to some of us if we haven’t read the entire book of Job.

Finally in chapter 38, God speaks and puts Job’s friends in their place. We have heard preachers and teachers tell us what God thinks. When we hear this, we had better be on guard because you’re probably going to hear what they think, and it is egotistical to even utter the words, “this is what God thinks.” I have no idea what God thinks. I know what he did for us, but His power and wisdom is something that I cannot comprehend. Think! Look at the mountains, the ocean, and the stars. He has the power to speak them into existence. Unimaginable power!

If you want to get a better understanding of God’s power read from Job Chapter 38 until the end. The words from God to Job should humble all of us. It humbled Job:

“Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak, I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

In the end it was Job praying for his friends after God said, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has…. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7-8

In the end Job was restored. For him it was on this earth, but that may not be the case for all of us. It wasn’t for the disciples, but they were restored in heaven with God. I beg and plead that you seek the truth. Don’t just take my word or the word of any other teacher. Read scripture. If you don’t understand what you are reading, read with friends and discuss what you read. Learn what it says, and do not allow yourself to be led by false teachers that peddle the gospel for personal gain.

My prayer is that each one of us would be saved. He gave it to us freely and by his Grace, not us, we can know what real freedom is.

Just Believe! Really?

There is a passage of Scripture that shook me to the core. It may very well be the one passage of scripture that led me to be saved. Since I was 7, I believed that I was saved. Until I read this passage. How could someone have gone to church for so long, and never had read this? My fear now, is that there are many more just like I was.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of them says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:14-19

Up until the day I read this passage from James in earnest, had I died, I would have heard the worst words possible, “I never knew you.” If you have had any experience in church, you have probably heard it said, “You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-20 reads, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

What kind of fruit was I bearing? Any? Too many times I focused on the believing part, and there is no doubt, I have always believed in One God. It had never crossed my mind that the demons, even Satan himself, believe that. But, did my actions serve as proof of my faith? The honest answer was no.

Had I done good deeds? Of course, and from a worldly standpoint, most would even say I was a pretty good guy. But, why did I do those good deeds? Why do I do them now? Before, it made me feel good, and today it still does, but when asked why, the answer today is Jesus Christ who commanded me to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul and to love my neighbor as myself.

There is one ultimate reason for good deeds. If any of us could prevent a friend from dying, we would do everything possible to save our friend’s life. So, if we believe that the destination for an unbelieving friend is eternal damnation in hell, why wouldn’t we do everything possible to prevent that from happening? In the first example, we are protecting their life that will end eventually anyway. In the second, we are talking about eternity. That never ends!

What if they get mad? What if they hate me for talking “religion” with them? What if they’re offended? Those things are possible. What if they die and spend eternity in hell? That’s a certainty without Christ. Offended or hell? What would you choose?

Reading the passage from James also inspired me to read more scripture to see what a real follower of Christ looks like and that changes the world around us especially in a country where we can do it openly. At least for now.

That’s now the mission! David Hill, Founder of The One Spark Foundation, and I hope you will follow us and join us in being a light for the rest of the world to see. A light that points towards Jesus.  God Bless!

Love Your Enemies! World Needs More Jesus?

Love Your Enemies - MNU Blogs

“You have heard that is was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may have children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” Proverbs 25:21

In a previous devotion, we discussed forgiveness, and loving your enemy piggybacks off of that devotion. And every devotion can be traced back to loving God and loving others. We all have that person or persons in our life that we just can’t stand. Seeing them or hearing their name can anger you and some of these people suck out every bit of energy.

I hope that you learn from this but it is also preaching to me because of two situations that I am dealing with concerning two different people. One betrayed me unexpectedly and could cause financial hardship on me and my family. The other is the guy that sucks every bit of energy out of a room when he walks in. He is arrogant and fake. Both are testing my ability to love my enemy, and frankly I pray that I honor God in how I treat these two people despite my instinct to attack.

Have you ever noticed that our natural instinct is often the exact opposite of Christ? When someone hits you, is it natural to offer them your other cheek to hit as well? If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, is it natural to offer them your coat as well? (See Matthew 5:38-40) Of course it isn’t normal to not hit back, yet that is what Christ calls us to do.

This doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to defend yourself or your family when someone attacks, but it does mean that you shouldn’t seek revenge. Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Paul in went on to write and he quoted Proverbs 25:21, “On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In seeking to be more like Jesus, he again is the perfect example. He is God. He could have stopped the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers at any time. He was there when the mountains were created along with the oceans, the stars, and all of creation. Do you not think he had to power to stop the ones persecuting him? What’s more amazing is he was allowing them to torture and eventually kill him and he was doing it for them, and us. Christ was actually praying for God to forgive them.  Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” This is what a world that is more like Jesus looks like!

Will your enemy turn and become your friend? Will the two men I mentioned in the beginning ever care if I love them? Only God knows, but to be like Jesus we have to love everyone regardless. Will it be easy? No. Will you fail? Yes. Will God forgive you when you do? Yes, if you ask for forgiveness and truly mean it when you do. A world that looks like Jesus can start with you and it can start with me. The choice is ours!

The World Needs More Jesus? Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Do you know a person that is miserable because they can’t let go of what someone has done to them? Are you that person? Some of you have had things done to you by someone that you love that I can’t even imagine, so I am not going to preach to you about forgiving them, but think of Jesus. One of his closest companions turned on him for money, 30 pieces of silver. He was spat upon. Jesus was whipped with a cord that had sharp instruments on it to remove flesh quickly. Just to make fun of him, the Roman soldiers twisted thorns into the shape of a crown and forced it onto his head. Our Lord was forced to carry the very cross that he would die on. Men drove nails through his hands and feet. And to add insult to his injury, the soldiers gambled to see who would get his clothes after he died and as they were doing this, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Then imagine the father that could forgive the people that did these things to his son. That is a forgiveness that is almost impossible for me to understand. I’ve met people that have told me stories of what others have done to them, and somehow, they have forgiven. There is someone from my past that for years would make me angry when I thought about what they had done to me as a child. But forgiving that person has released me from bitterness and I pray that he has asked God to forgive him.

As much as I may not want to, scripture is clear in Matthew 6:14-15. If I want God to forgive me, I have to forgive others. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, after answering Peter’s question, Jesus told a story. The king felt compassion on a man who couldn’t pay him back and the man begged the king to be patient. Feeling compassion for the man, the king forgave him his debt. Later, the forgiven man found another man that owed him money. The other man pleaded with him to have mercy and patience. Unwilling, the forgiven man went to have this guy thrown into prison until he could repay. This is from Matthew 18:23-30. The rest of the story I will quote from scripture, Matthew 18:32-35, “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed to him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

Jesus is crystal clear on forgiveness. If I/you want to be forgiven by God, we have to forgive others, and it doesn’t say unless they did this or that. It simply says we must forgive to be forgiven.

Do you harbor bitterness and anger toward another person in your heart? If so, remember the words of Christ and the mercy God has on all of us.

In God We Trust

in-god-we-trust-money

For the last 17 years I have worked in the financial industry, and I am blessed for having done so, but not how I would have expected. So much attention is paid to having enough money to retire or saving enough to pay for college. Entire television networks are devoted to economics, government tax policies, stocks, bonds, and central banks. Talking heads tell us which stocks are good and which ones are bad. They speak of the economy as if it is some blob without real care for the individuals that make up that blob. Since the financial crisis of 2008, some of the talking heads have spoken about hyperinflation and economic collapse. Advertisers have made millions selling gold, insurance for food, and ammunition to safeguard your family, your property, and your food.

In some countries such as Venezuela, we have seen shortages of food and other supplies that people need for daily life. Television shows have done specials on the hyperinflation of Germany during the Weimar Republic. Pictures of people taking wheel barrels full of money just to buy bread.

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Commercials with scary talk and pictures telling us the dollar is going to be worthless, and we need to buy gold as a “store of value” before the dollar becomes worthless. Gold has always been “real” money. As an aside, if the dollar is going to be worthless, why would the person want to trade their gold for my dollars? Will the dollar become worthless? What if I told you it is? In fact, what if I told you that all money is worthless including gold? Stay with me on this because I can prove it is true, especially if you call yourself a Christian. Even if you are a non-believer, I challenge you to prove me wrong.

On our money in the United States is the motto, “In God We Trust.” Christians and non-Christians fight over whether or not that motto should be on our money. Frankly, I think the motto is appropriate, but probably not for the reason you might think. What god? Allah? Jesus Christ? Buddha? Brahman? In what god do we trust? Who is we?

I am not here to have a theological debate with you. I believe that God created the world, and He sent His Son to die and take the punishment that I deserve for my sins. I believe that Jesus died on a cross, God raised him on the third day, and he is coming again. And, the only way to the Father is through him. If you don’t believe that, I’m not going to argue with you. You cannot prove he does or doesn’t exist, and if you choose to believe that he doesn’t, you are Red 35. Feel free to ask me what that means in the comments section.

One day a thought came to my head. We are told that the Federal Reserve is going to cause hyperinflation, the dollar is going to be worthless, and people will starve. There is truth to those comments. If the dollar becomes worthless, people will starve, but why? That’s stupid, especially for a country that claims to have 200 million Christians.

Last week I asked my 10 year old a few questions. “Jackson, does it take money feed people?” He said, “Yes.” To which I replied, “No it doesn’t. It takes food.” Then I asked him, “Do you need money to clothe people?” Again he said, “Yes.” My reply, “No you don’t!” Does it take money to stay warm in the winter? No, it takes heat. The point being, money is actually worthless. Prove me wrong!

Everything needed for life on this earth was freely given. It was already here. There is only one thing that man has actually created; money. Everything else was already here, and could always do what it does today. Mortal man simply hadn’t figure that out how to use it. Our lives are easier because of the discoveries of men and women, but the actual elements to that make those discoveries work were already here and always have been.

Now to the point. Why do I think the motto, “In God We Trust”, is appropriate? God, the provider of all things has been replaced by another provider of all things; money. Why do I say it’s stupid that people would starve because of hyperinflation or a currency becoming worthless? How in God’s name can we claim that America is a Christian nation when people could starve if a currency became worthless? Did the ability to grow food go away? No! Are we unable to clean water without money? Yes! But we have become dependent on a worthless, man-made god. A god that burns with fire. Money is the ultimate golden calf.

Money has become such a god that we spend almost all of our lives trying to accumulate it. People sitting in cars for hours a day only to spend more hours somewhere else to achieve the American dream while taking some of that money to allow someone else to raise their children. (Guilty as charged) And before you call me a socialist, think again because you are 100% wrong. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.'” Our government and all governments, our modern-day priests, have made it almost impossible to live without money via their ability to tax.

I don’t know if our currency will collapse any time soon, but the starving people in places around the world that have experienced hyperinflation, are proof that money is god, and they became dependent on that god to provide, and like all false gods, it fails. If a country is truly a Christian country, especially one with 200 million Christians, it should be impossible for them to suffer simply because a piece of paper or digits on a computer became worthless, but they will. Why? Because we have exchanged the One True God, the Great Provider, for a paper calf. (It’s not even golden today)

So yes, “In God We Trust” should be on our money, but would more accurately be, “In god We Trust.”

“Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved by money.” Matthew 6:24

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the minds of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Needs More Jesus?

The World Needs More Jesus?

In this section of the devotionals, we will focus on Jesus and his words in the book of Matthew. You might ask, why have a question mark at the end of the title of this section? Do you not agree that the world would be a better place if we all followed Jesus’ lead? Absolutely, I agree that the world needs Jesus! The challenge comes when what Jesus taught goes against my/our natural instincts.

Before writing this, I struggled with how to write it. The last thing I want is to sound pious or condescending because I fail every day. Reading the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-16 gives me hope. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

Understand that each and every one of us is going to fail. Jesus is God. He is perfect and we are not. When we fail, God will forgive us.

We will delve into many things that Jesus said and some will challenge you more than others. Some are very hard. For example, Jesus said to love our enemies. When someone hits me, I don’t want to “turn to him the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39) Heck, I want to hit him back, but I don’t get to pick and choose what words of Jesus I want to follow. If we want the world to have more Jesus, it starts with us!

 

The Greatest Commandment

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:36-37

“You must not have any other god but me.” Exodus 20:3

It’s easy to make fun of people that worship things that we can’t fathom. For heaven’s sake, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it. Rome had a god of the sky, Jupiter. Neptune was Jupiter’s brother and was the god of the seas. Juno was the wife of Jupiter and was the goddess of marriage and women. Mars the god of war. Venus the god of love. Bellona was the goddess of war. I guess Mars needed help. It seems the Romans had a god for almost everything. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_deities)

Today, we Christians can’t imagine how anyone could worship some of the things that they bow down to, but are we really any different? Are there things that I have put before God? You? If I’m honest, the answer is yes because my actions prove stronger than my words.

One of my gods was baseball. Is there anything inherently wrong with baseball? Of course not, but it would be a lie if I said I didn’t place it before God. For others it’s fame, a career, possessions, and maybe even other people. Where are my thoughts? What do my actions prove? What do I worry about?

Taking an honest look at your own life may reveal who or what you really worship. If there is anything that you are unwilling to give up to follow God, that is your god. That is my god. Ask yourself this one question. If I were to stand before God today, would He find something that I placed above Him and am I doing that now? God is a god of love, but He is also just, and the answer to that question has eternal consequences.

Why I’m Writing

Why write this book? That is a question that my friend and co-author David Hill asked me as we were thinking of writing a book together. Both David and I have our own personal reasons for writing, but one thing we do share is a love for God, people, and a love for the truth. For me personally, I have several reasons that I felt this book needs to be written and I will share those with you but first let me give you some background of the journey that has led me to where I am today.

There has never been a point in my life where I didn’t believe in God. Growing up in a small town in the south, the Bible-Belt, church was just a part of life. As a child I never even questioned the existence of God. My grandparents were Christians, my parents were Christians, so that meant my brother and I were Christians also.

As of this writing I am 45, and frankly for most of my adult life, I never doubted that there was a god. My family went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and occasionally on Wednesday nights. As I grew older and moved on to college, I still believed in God, but I didn’t attend church as much. Partially because I was playing baseball in college and we had games every Sunday in the spring. I don’t know what my excuse was during the rest of the year. Lazy?

In 1995 I married my wife, Nicki. For the first 4 years of our marriage we lived in South Carolina, and we attended church almost every Sunday morning. Very seldom did we attend on Sunday nights and never on Wednesday. We believed in God, and we were doing our duty to Him by going to church once a week.

Then in 1999, we moved to Kansas where I started a new career. In Kansas we went to church occasionally in the beginning and eventually settled on the church that we are members of now. We were the typical American church going family. In 2001 our first child was born and in 2006 our second child was born.

Most of what I knew about God was what I was taught by preachers, family, Sunday school teachers, and some other people. I had read many parts of the Bible. The stories about David and Goliath, Abraham, and other figures that are in the Bible I knew. Jesus dying on a cross, rising on the third day, and that he is coming back was something that I believed, and still do, but I didn’t know why. Preachers and teachers told us as kids to read the Bible, and I did read some out of guilt for not.

My faith had never been really tested until around 2008-09. These events are all documented in my first book, The Road to Complete Fitness, plus what led to the existence of Complete Fitness. For the first time in my life, I began to question what I believed. With the guidance of my pastor and friend, David Welsh, I started reading the Bible in earnest.

There are many details that I am leaving out of this for brevity so I can get to the points of why I wrote my part of this book. In 2014, along with two friends, I introduced the concept of Complete Fitness. Frankly it was just a name, but it became more to me than just a name, and now it is a mission.

For over a year and a half, I simply moved forward with Complete Fitness without knowing what I was really doing, yet I felt compelled to continue. Frustration set in because I wasn’t seeing any real progress although, we were able to help some people along the way. Sometime in 2016, when I was probably the most frustrated because I saw things that just didn’t make sense, and that’s when I met David Hill through a mutual friend.

My prayer dating all the way back to 2008-09 timeframe was to know Truth, and today I still pray for that. What I saw was solutions to many of the issues that we face in society today, yet they weren’t being done, especially by the church. Little did I know there was this guy that lived in the same town as I live that was doing something, and somehow I had never heard of it. His foundation was feeding thousands of people, helping sick children, fighting against the sex trade, and numerous things that you can look up at www.1spark.net. He, David, gave me hope and since has become a good friend and a partner in this mission.

Someone once told me when a verse of scripture is quoted. Then go back and see ifthe person that quoted the verse is using that verse in the proper context. His advice was to go one verse before and one verse after the quoted verse. If you still do not have the proper context, continue doing that until you do. What I learned was many verses or scripture, when taken out of context, can be used to manipulate. One of the reasons that I am writing this book is to take some of those commonly misused verses put them back into the context in which they were written. In doing this, I hope to expose those that are purposely manipulating others for personal gain. At this point, I do not plan on naming names because I want you to learn the truth, remove emotion, and let God lead you to the truth.

David nor I are perfect, so we ask first that you understand that. And, second that you test our words against scripture. Not because we are trying to pull a fast one, rather because we are only interested in the Truth. Even the Bereans in scripture tested everything that Paul taught them, and we do not claim to be Paul.

Another reason I’m writing what I write is to not only challenge you, but to challenge me. Jesus and the apostles that wrote the books in Scripture are pretty clear on how we are supposed to live. Things that are very hard and go against our human nature, yet Jesus perfected them all. He is our standard, and Jesus was and is perfect. I can never be perfect, but I’m given hope because the people written about in Scripture were not perfect either. Some were adulterers. Others were murderers, yet God used them in mighty ways, and He provided the perfect sacrifice for your sins and my sins.

Some will reject us, and I’m very aware of that, but some of you are thirsting for the truth. We hope to bless you through this writing, but more importantly we hope this is just the beginning of changing lives and creating a community that looks like and chooses to live as God meant for us to live. A life of Freedom!

The foundation of all that we write comes from the words of Jesus himself when he was asked by the religious leaders of his day, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

May God bless you and lead you to the Truth, and the “Truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

Mickey Ellison