Job 3-4 B

We have a returning guest writer today! Tiffany Jensen is sharing her response from today’s chapters:

This past year and a half has been full of disappointment and heartache for my husband and I. Even though most of our trials have not been quite as extreme as Job’s, I find myself agreeing with him when he says “why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:23). But like Job, I had friends that came to my side with encouragement. I don’t know much about Eliphaz who tries to speak encouragement to Job; or about their relationship. However, I can picture him wanting to comfort someone he cares about. It’s brilliant how he starts out. 

“If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.” Job 4:2-4

The first thing Eliphaz does is acknowledge the validity of Job’s despair then he encourages him. I love how he points out that Job has always been there for those around him and now it’s time for him to let other people strengthen him. I’m sure when Job was pouring into other people’s lives he never thought about it coming back around when he most needed it. This part of Job’s story makes me so grateful for the ways God provides. Especially when that provision comes through community. There’s nothing better than a friend calling or stopping by when you’re having a rough day, or a rough year. 

Is there someone God has been laying on your heart? I urge you to call or drop in on that person. Live in the community God so beautifully designed for us.

-Tiffany


Thank you, Tiff!

 

-Carly

Songs of Solomon 7-8 B

“I am my lover’s and he claims me as his own. Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers. Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.” 7:11-12

I love the imagery here. Partnering up with someone and delighting in all life has to offer together.

It made me think of my friend Emily. Anytime she is sharing something personal about her life on social media, she presents it as an experience with her husband. (She’s probably like that in person too, but our friendship is long distance and primarily hinges on social media.) Whether it’s her job, plans she’s looking forward to, her experience in nature, health struggles or her relationship with the Lord, her husband is intertwined in the story. It’s so lovely and wonderful, like he’s just an extension of her own life. He’s not just a side character in her story, they’re mutually writing one together.

Why do you think this book is in the Bible? It’s easy to think the Bible is a list of strict, exclusive rules that don’t leave room for humanity. It’s only easy to think that if you don’t read it very often!

God embraces every part of our humanity. There’s isn’t anything he doesn’t “get” or acknowledge. He makes room for it all and he’s in and for you, every single part of you.

-Carly

Song of Songs 3-4 B

These chapters are so graphic and weird! It feels so sneaky, reading other people’s love letters. I really enjoyed Bethany’s response to these chapters from last time around, definitely give it a read.

Love is accessible to everyone, even the unloveable. Maybe it won’t be romantic love, but it’s even better. Unconditional, irrevocable, relentless and perfect love lavished upon us by the God Who Is Love.

How do you experience his love? Lately for me, it’s been through my kids. Their love for me, their mother whom they did not choose, is so pure and so strong. My relationship to them constantly reminds me of the love available to me in the Heavenly Father.

What about you? Who models God’s love to you?

-Carly

Esther 9-10 B

“Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.” 9:20-22

Mordecai has experienced the ultimate turn-around. He goes from dreading an impending genocide of his people to celebrating their victory over their enemies. And I love the way he chooses to celebrate! It’s how I wish America celebrated Christmas. Feasting, gladness, homemade gifts and generosity to the poor. That is what it looks like to celebrate when God has done something great. Did God financially bless you, when recently you were clobbered with debt? Throw a party, invite a ton of people and don’t forget to generously tithe to the needy. When God is generous with us, he expects us to be generous with others.

Maybe he’s bringing relief to you in other ways, like your health. Stop and acknowledge what he’s doing, and take the time to celebrate, even the smallest victories. Because if I’ve gleaned anything from the book of Esther, it’s that things can turn on you in an instant.

Monday morning we start the Songs of Solomon!

-Carly

Esther 5-6 B

The Bible has the best stories, doesn’t it? If you’re not reading along with us, I encourage you to catch up. This book is so good!

Did you notice how quickly (at least in the text) Mordecai’s mourning turned into celebrating? He goes from complete dread to being paraded around and exalted by the king. It was such a reminder to me that we can’t sit around waiting to be pat on our head for good deeds. Mordecai went years before being properly honored for his honorable work of saving the king. How much better was it to be unexpectedly honored, at such a dark, scary time in his life, than to demand the attention he deserved? (Not to mention the added benefit of how much it frustrates Haman…)

The commentary in my Bible mentions that the book of Esther has been regarded as a myth or historical romance. I have no problem believing that God could orchestrate this contrite, script-like storyline in real life, though. The most unbelievable, couldn’t-plan-it-better-yourself timing (the king reading of Mordecai’s heroism just as Haman was storming towards the king to have him destroyed, etc), is the result of the Lord at work.

“ ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.‘ ” Isaiah 55:8-9

When has God’s timing seemed unbelievable in your lifetime?

Share below! I love stories like that.

-Carly

Esther 1-2 B

“There will be no end to their disrespect and discord.” 1:18

I love the panic that ignites when one woman makes her own decision. (The decision not to be objectified..) Yes, it wasn’t just any woman, it was the queen. And yes, the king had a point. Rebellion is contagious, especially when seen in a leader or role model. Still, it’s pretty frustrating to read how they respond to Queen Vashti’s bold move.

I’m trying to approach the book of Esther without my preconceived notions. Or, without the bitterness that’s developed over the years from Bible studies using this story to celebrate the privilege of beauty and the art of passivity.

So far, the author of this book hasn’t mentioned God.

Where have you seen him in the story so far?

-Carly

Nehemiah 9-10 B

Chapter 9 is just the best, isn’t it? I love all the specific details mentioned of God’s provision. How God came down from heaven to his people in the wilderness (9:13), how he took such good care of them, their clothes didn’t even wear out in 40 years (9:21). I jotted down the summary line by line, and it really highlighted the pattern of God’s relationship with his people. His repeated compassion and the mercy he extends. His presence among them.

It’s Saturday, you have a minute, right? Pour another cup of coffee and pull out a notebook. Summarize your journey with God. Take note of the details. When did he come down and stay with you, leading the way like a pillar of fire? When did you rebel, turning to other gods? How did provide for you?

The more we familiarize ourselves with God’s abundant provision and presence in our lives, the better. Know your story with him and you’ll be eager to tell it. Practice seeing the hand of the Lord in your life and you won’t be able to miss it. Even when you’re wandering in the wilderness, he’s with you.

-Carly