THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

July 6, 2016

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Most of us have heard about the troubles of Job. That's not necessarily what I would like to focus on this week, but would like to do a quick recap on what happened in the beginning of his story.

Job 1:1 starts out by saying, "There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless -- a man of complete integrity. He feared the Lord and stayed away from evil."

Job had seven sons and three daughters, and was extremely wealthy, with numerous servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. (verse 3)

One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the accuser, Satan, came with them. "Where have you come from?" the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, "I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that's going on." Then the Lord asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless -- a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil." Satan replied, "Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!" "All right, you may test him," the Lord said to Satan. "Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don't harm him physically." So Satan left the Lord's presence. (verses 6-12)

In the space of one day, Job lost all his children, all his herds, and all his servants. What was Job's response? He stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 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!" The last verse of chapter one says, "In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God."

That's pretty spectacular, that even in the midst of complete devastation, Job would be able to worship. He recognized that everything he had been given came from God, therefore, it was God's prerogative (His right or privilege) to take it away. He was still able to give praise to the Lord. Oh, that we would be able to have that same attitude of worship when we deal with difficulties!

Chapter two begins much as chapter one, with the members of the heavenly court coming to present themselves to God, and Satan showing up. He and God have pretty much the same conversation as before, with God asking where he had came from; then God asking, "Have you noticed my servant, Job." Satan replied, "A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face." God replied, "All right, do with him as you please. But spare his life." Satan left and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to toe.

Job's wife confronted him and asked, "Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job answered, "You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" In all of this, Job said nothing wrong.

From a wife's perspective, I would guess that she was dealing with grief and anger and speaking out of those emotions. Job wasn't the only one who had lost everything, but as his wife, she had also lost everything as well. She had lost all ten of her children, all of her servants, all of their animals, and all the wealth that she was used to having. Now, on top of everything, her husband was struck down with horrible boils all over his body. She may have been thinking, "After losing everything all in the space of a few hours, now you [Job] are suffering with boils! How much more can we take?!" I've heard that the loss of a child is one of the most heart-breaking and difficult situations a parent can go through. Job's wife not only lost one child, but all ten of her children at the same time. Perhaps she felt as if God had forsaken them. Honestly, I'm not sure but what I'd have reacted in this same manner, had this much devastation happened to me all in one day. In fact, I possibly would react much like this if I lost this much in the space of a month! After all, I have a hard time with worship being my first reaction when I receive bad news or I'm faced with a tough situation that isn't nearly the magnitude of loss and suffering that this couple had. I've never had to deal with the sudden loss of everything that Job and his wife suffered; and hope that I never do.

Generally, it seems as if Job's wife is referred to in a negative manner, because of these few words that are recorded in scripture that she spoke; after all, she should have been supportive of her husband and reacted in the same way as he did, right?! Absolutely! But I also understand that grief can cause people to react in a way that they normally wouldn't, and say things that they really don't mean.

Perhaps Job's wife was not only grieving, but also angry at the entire situation and felt like she couldn't take anymore when she told Job to curse God and die. Deep down, I doubt that she really wanted to lose her husband after everyone and everything else she had just lost. Job told her, "Honey, you're talking like a foolish women! Should we only accept good things (or blessings) from God's hand and never accept bad things that happen?" Job had a deep faith and understanding that regardless of what he had or didn't have, God was sovereign and in control.

Part of life is being able to accept both the blessing and the difficulties. That can be tough at times! But the times of testing and trials can make us stronger; and also make us more appreciative of the blessings when they do come. It also should deepen our relationship and faith in God. Coming to a place where we can fully surrender all of our burdens and circumstances to the Lord, fully trusting Him with the results, is a sign of spiritual maturity and what true faith looks like.

There are no scripture that tells us how long Job suffered, so we have no idea if it lasted for several days, weeks, or months.

Now let's skip ahead to the last chapter, which is the conclusion of Job's story. Job had been having a conversation with the Lord in the previous chapters leading up to this. Chapter 42 begins with Job speaking to God, saying, "I know that you can do anything and no one can stop you. You asked, 'Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?' It is I -- and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me." In verse 5, Job continues, "I had only heard about you before, and now I have seen you with my own eyes."

When I read these verses, they remind me of my own thinking at times. I do know and believe that God can do anything and that no one can stop Him! I believe that when God speaks, miracles happen. I believe that there is nothing that is too difficult for God. BUT..... I also believe that God could very well ask me the same question that He asked Job -- and He very likely has from time to time: "Who are you that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?!" I often will question God's timing, God's seemingly slowness of acting when answering my prayers, wonder if I need to get involved and do something myself, or question why things are happening as they are. In my ignorance and lack of understanding, I often question (maybe not always through my words, but through my actions and my impatience) the wisdom of God. Job said, "I talk about things that I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me." In our prayer and request and petition to God for answers, we often will talk about things that we really know nothing about -- things that far exceeds our understanding. The scripture comes to mind that says, "'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.'" (Isaiah 55:8 NLT)

Verse 5 says, "I have only heard about you before, and now I have seen you with my own eyes." There is a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Many people can say that they know who God is and tell you about Him. But testing will be the defining time that will show who just knows about Him, and who has a real relationship with Him. Tests will either draw us closer to God, or we will push away. If we persevere and hold onto our faith, at the end we too will be able to say, "Lord, I thought I knew You before I went through this! I realize that I really only knew about You. Now I've seen you at work and know what You can do. I now truly know YOU!"

The Lord then spoke to Job's three friends telling them, "I am angry with you, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has." God then instructed them to make a sacrifice, saying, "My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf."

Job 42:10 says, "When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before."

Something that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart a few days ago, as I was reading these scriptures, was this: When we go through a difficulty and come out on the other side of that time of testing, God can restore what we've lost. Not only will He restore it, but He will restore it two-fold! He won't restore to us what someone else has lost, but He will restore to us what was stolen from us. We can't expect to receive restoration of wealth, if that isn't what the area in which we were tested or what we lost. The Lord restored Job's fortunes, because that was what had been taken from him during his time of testing.

Isaiah 61:7: "Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land and everlasting joy will be yours."

If you've lost your honor, whether it be to past mistakes and sin or other life circumstances, and suffered shame due to that, then that is what God will restore back to you. In fact, He will give you a double share of honor to enjoy. What Satan tries to steal away and use to destroy us, God can bring about restoration. But He does more than just restores; God restores two-fold!

Verse 12 says, "So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning." (There's an example of that double, two-fold blessing again!)

Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full live.

I don't know for certain, because the scripture doesn't give details or specify this information -- but I'd like to believe that in the end, Job's integrity and attitude of worship throughout all his loss and devastation, won his wife back to a restored faith in God; and that because of his example, she became a worshipper and woman of integrity, too.

That's the example that I desire to be to others; the kind that will lead others to a lifestyle of worship. I also want to be known as a woman of complete integrity. With God's help, we can all be godly, regardless of our situations, just as Job was.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

One of the most important points I've noticed in the book of Job is that God doesn't kill Job's kids, flocks, or cattle. It was Satan that did that. But God did allow Satan to.

It isn't usually God that allows Satan to attack us. Humanity allows him to. I'm sure many people don't do anything to authorize Satan or his minions to attack us. But there are enough people who do, that Satan can run rampant through Earth.

I've heard a lot of people say that the world is going downhill fast. True, it is much easier to see immorality on TV, internet, and stores. It also seems encouraged more than it used to be. But it's also easier to look up Bible references and sermon notes. It does seem like it's worse now than when I was younger, but I was also pretty oblivious then, too.

I find it tempting to find a cave, and move in. I would want reasonable access to a dentist. And I would want some variety in food. It seems like a nice dream. But I know it wouldn't work. It would only be avoiding the problem, and end up making it worse. I need to get encouragement and strength from others. And I need to share encouragement and strength, too. The more we work together, the more we can kick Satan out, and the better off we will be.

ON THE MENEWE:

Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos

1 pound sausage

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

8 ounce cream cheese, softened

22 large jalapenos

Half each jalapeno lengthwise and remove seeds -- removing the membrane inside will help cut some of the heat, if desired. Brown sausage; drain. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and shredded parmesan cheese; fold in sausage. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into each jalapeno half. Place in ungreased pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425 for 15-20 minutes, or until filling is lightly browned and bubbly. Dip in Ranch dressing, if desired.

**You can also cut bacon strips in half and wrap around each stuffed jalapeno prior to baking.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Just a word of caution: Be careful when clicking on any links, shared pictures or articles, or upgrades on Facebook. Even though they may look legitimate or look as if they were posted by people whom you trust, they may contain a virus. My sister recently clicked on an article that a niece supposedly had shared, only to immediately get a virus on her cell phone. Come to find out, the niece had never shared the article, but it had popped up on her page, causing a virus to her own phone. I also had clicked on a link to supposedly update my Flash Player. It didn't update my Flash Player, and automatically downloaded a couple of other programs that caused a virus on my laptop. Thankfully, my sister's son was able to get the virus off my sister's phone, after taking a couple hours of work. Jon was also able to get my laptop cleaned up and virus free. We've both learned our lesson -- to never click on anything again other than personal posts and pictures!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Let's not be so obsessed with the container that we overlook the content. - Christine Caine

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org