Reconstruction of Jesus' face from the Shroud of Turin

Today: Psalms 15; Matthew 18:10-35; Job 1, 2, & 3

Psalms 16

How I love David’s love songs to God. He can get really mushy! David tells God, “I have nothing good besides You… In your presence is fullness of joy… pleasures forever.” I just love how Psalms lets us see the sappy side of this mighty warrior king. We see in David’s lyrics the amazing love story that is possible between God and us. And it is beautiful.

Did you know that Psalms 16 contains a prophecy of Jesus? David tells God, “You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay,” (v.10) predicting that Jesus will rise from the dead and his body will not decay. I am amazed how often David predicts the coming Savior who wouldn’t hit the scene for another thousand years. The predictions are chillingly accurate even down to the way in which Jesus would die: “They have pierced my hands and feet.” (Psalms 22:16)

Those unfamiliar with the Bible have no idea of the countless prophesies that fill the Old Testament, many of which have already come true with shocking accuracy. Not only were many prophecies of Jesus foretold a thousand years before he walked the earth – where he would be born and grow up, what he would do and say, how he would die and come back from the dead – but also prophesies about what would happen to the Jews and many other peoples in the Old Testament. The more I learn about the Bible, the more obvious it is that the Bible is a magical holy book that could only have been constructed by God.

"Forgiveness" by Joshua Smith

Matthew 18

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

This is the only conditional statement in the LORD’s prayer. Jesus repeats it several times. God will not forgive us if we don’t forgive others. When asked how many times must we forgive the same brother, he tells the disciples “seventy seven times.”

And THEN, just in case maybe we might still have missed the point, he tells us this parable about a slave owner (think ’employer’ if you’re too buggered up by the idea of slaves) who forgives the debt of his ’employee.’ The forgiven debt was enormous, approximately 160,000 YEARS of wages!

The forgiven man turns around and demands payment from someone who owes him a mere 3 1/2 months of wages. But unlike his boss, the man refuses to show mercy and chokes the poor man first and then throws him into debtors prison. Wow what a jerk! And Jesus is saying that if we don’t forgive others, we are just like that jerky guy! OUCH.

This is such a hard teaching… something our offended cancel culture cannot begin to comprehend. Forgiving people who have wronged us is so difficult. Honestly, I wish Jesus hadn’t said this. I wish he hadn’t put such emphasis upon it.

But he did. So we cannot ignore it.

It’s another one of those things that most of us will probably never get right, but we have to keep trying. If I ever get there I’ll let you know.

But in the meantime, here’s what I do. I practice daily confession to God of my failings. (I’m not asking him to forgive me; he’s already done that. I’m just confessing them to him. It keeps me humble.) I continue to seek God every day through prayer, meditation, and Bible.

Bit by little bit, he IS perfecting me. That is all any of us can do.

Study For Job And His Comforters, Ilya Efimovich Repin

Job 1, 2, & 3

“Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?” Job 2:10

Well here we go… Job is one of those difficult books in the Bible that I love and I hate. Job’s trials seem so unfair. So undeserved. Why God?! The writer says that Job is “blameless” and yet God allows him to undergo great suffering. He loses all of his possessions and all of his many children all in a single day. And then God lets Satan attack his body with painful boils from head to toe (yuck).

Through all of this, Job responds with acceptance and worship. When his wife urges him to curse God and die, he replies, “Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?” And that is the thesis statement of the entire book of Job.

We live in a cursed world. We all WILL suffer in one way or another eventually. Nothing happens that God doesn’t allow. Jesus tells us to forgive each other, but can we forgive GOD? Only when we consider all of eternity, can we understand that our sufferings in this life truly are “light and momentary afflictions that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)  Only someone with eternal vision can respond to suffering with worship as Job does.

Notice that Job spends quite a bit of time complaining about his situation to his friends. We don’t have to like it when we suffer! We don’t have to plaster a fake smile on our faces when the troubles come. God can handle our honesty. A little bit of whining is okay. The key to Job’s blamelessness is that even through his whining, he refuses to condemn God. He says, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

How far away I am from such an attitude! I’ve got the whining part down! But the acceptance and worship part… how is it even possible?

I think it’s all about understanding God’s character (as much as our little brains are able). Even the faintest glimpse of God’s almighty sovereign power puts his bigness and our smallness into proper perspective. When we acknowledge his terrible greatness with his loving invitation for relationship, the natural response is to worship him. If we consider his terrible greatness and his loving invitation with eternal vision, it is indeed possible to worship him through our sufferings.