Life After This Life

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before…. And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters.
Job 42:10, 12-13

Job had lost it all.

His vast fortune wiped out overnight.

His seven sons and three daughters all killed on the same night.

He had been struck with some affliction that reduced his skin to festering and itching boils.

The only thing Job is left with is his wife and his life. And his wife told him to “curse God and die.”

And yes, I realize this is exactly how I started the last devotion!

We’ve come to the end of the Book of Job and the story it tells.

Job receives back double of all that he lost. Twice as many sheep, twice as many camels, twice as many oxen, and twice as many female donkeys.

Job is restored to the position he had before as “the greatest of all the people of the east.”

I presume his health is also restored.

Remember, this was never really about how wealthy Job was or how blessed by God Job was.

That was Satan’s accusation. That Job only believed in God because God had blessed him with tremendous wealth.

Satan was shown to be wrong when Job continues to believe in God and look to him as his Redeemer who lives even though Job lost everything but his life and his wife!

Job ultimately shows his belief and reverent awe (fear) of God by praying for and sacrificing on behalf of his friends.

God once again blesses Job with incredible wealth.

But wait a minute! Not everything God blesses Job with is doubled.

In Job 1:2 it says, “There were born to him seven sons and three daughters.” In Job 1:19 we’re told that all ten of them were killed at once when a great wind destroyed the house they were in.

In Job 42:10,12 it says that God restored the fortunes of Job two-fold.

Except for his children.

Job 42:13 says that Job and his wife are blessed with ten more children. Not twenty more!

But think of this: Job’s first ten children have been killed in this life. But as believers in God they would still be living! They are living forever in heaven!

When Job and his wife are blessed with ten more children, they have two-fold children! Ten on earth and ten in heaven!

This is a subtle yet powerful way of telling us that there is life after this life!

And that life is ours because our Redeemer lives!

Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and he lives! He had died on the cross, paying the penalty for all our sin. His sacrifice on Calvary was the redemption price that purchased and won us from all sin, from death itself, and from the devil.

You and I – as believers in Christ – will live forever in heaven! Even if we die on this earth, we will live forever!

This is the ultimate lesson of the Book of Job!

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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King’s Ransom

“…my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.”
Job 42:8

Job had lost it all.

His vast fortune wiped out overnight.

His seven sons and three daughters all killed on the same night.

He had been struck with some affliction that reduced his skin to festering and itching boils.

The only thing Job is left with is his wife and his life. And his wife told him to “curse God and die.”

Three friends come along to sit shiva with Job for seven days.

But after Job curses the day he was born, they feel obliged to speak.

They were not very helpful. What they say ranges from “you must have done something very wrong to be treated by God thusly” to “your children must have sinned, that’s why they were killed.”

They went on and on. Job defended himself, telling them that he hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve this! But his three friends insisted that he was wrong!

Finally, a young man named Elihu speaks up and tells Job and his friends that it doesn’t really matter. God is God and can do whatever he wants!

Then God finally answers Job’s pleading.

Job repents of blaming God for unjustly – or, at the very least, covertly – afflicting Job.

We know the whole story because we have been privy to a conversation between Satan and God at the beginning of the story. We know what’s been going on the whole time. That God allowed Satan to attack and afflict Job in order to prove that Job believes in God because he is God and not because God has given him vast amounts of wealth.

In other words, Job passes the test!

Here at the end, God speaks to the three friends and tells them to bring bulls and rams equal to several year’s income for one person. This number of bulls and rams is also noted as what a king would provide for a sacrifice.

God has the three friends bring a king’s ransom to Job. Not as restitution or payment. But as a sacrifice that Job will perform for them.

Even after all the verbal pain these three inflicted on Job, Job will intercede for them to God!

1800 years later, Jesus – with a sign above his head that said he was the king of the Jews – would do the same thing.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33-34).

And that is exactly what God did! Both in Jesus’ case and in Job’s!

…and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer” (Job 42:9).

God tells us to not seek revenge. God tells us to pray for our enemies. God tells us to love our enemies.

Job and Jesus are our models for this kind of living. And so that is what we are to do.

That is why Job went through what he did, so we could learn this lesson and live the Godly life.

By the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace (God’s Word and Sacraments) we are forgiven of all our sins. And by the same power we can intercede for others, even our enemies!

Let us model Job – and Jesus – and love everyone and pray for them.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Hearing AND Seeing

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in the dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6

Job had heard of God from Elihu. Before that he had heard of God via “oral tradition.” His father told him of God. His grandfather had told his father. His father told him and his father’s father’s father had told him.

This was how knowledge of God was told, through families and friends telling others about what God had done in the past.

On occasion God intervened and interacted directly with people. Noah, for instance. Abraham is another example. Jacob yet another one.

But less and less, apparently, by the time Job comes along (a couple of generations after Jacob).

Job was a special case, though. If anyone ever needed to hear directly from the Lord, it was Job! And this is exactly what Job had been seeking.

But be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

Fast forward 1800 years. It is just after sunset of a very momentous day.

The women in the group came banging on the door very early in the morning.

“Angels!” they said. “Tomb empty!” they exclaimed. “He’s alive!” they shouted!

Then two other disciples rushed up the stairs and into the room – the dust of the road to Emmaus still clinging to them.

“He spoke to us!” they announced! “He broke bread for us!” they further explained, in awe.

Then Jesus was suddenly there with them. Even though the door was locked, there he stood.

“Peace be to you.”

But Thomas was elsewhere. He came back later and they all told him, mostly all at once!

“Angels!” “Tomb empty!” “He’s alive!” “He spoke to us!” “He broke bread for us!”

He gave us his peace!

“I hear you speak of him with my ears, but I won’t believe until I see with my eyes and hands!”

Once week later, Jesus shows up again.

“Peace be to you.”

This time Thomas is there. He hears. He sees. He touches. He believes.

“My Lord and my God!”

Like Job, Thomas repents of his unbelief. Like Job, Thomas is forgiven and restored.

Like Thomas, Job will also intercede for others. Thomas will take the Gospel of the resurrected Lord to the world.

Job will pray for his three friends.

What will we do with our belief in God?

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Leviathan

“On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.”
Job 41:33

Knight George had been there the entire summer. And he was getting extremely frustrated.

He wanted desperately to return home and get back to work. But he couldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

He tried to spend his days wisely. He studied Greek and Hebrew and set out to translate the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into the language of his people.

He had made good headway towards the end of the summer and was nearly done translating the New Testament by the time the snow was flying.

His days were occupied with studying, writing, and translating.

But nights were something else entirely.

He would try to sleep. But his foul mood and his deep depression at being away from his home and work weighed on him like an oppressive millstone.

He also felt oppressed and attacked by Satan himself. He knew he was doing the work of God. He knew that he was called by the Holy Spirit to be who he was. He knew that he had been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.

But still Satan attacked! Breathing the flames of doubt and accusation like a fire-breathing dragon!

Night was Satan’s favorite time to attack. Knight George was tired, hungry, cold, bitter, and depressed. And Satan would use this time to press his attacks.

On one such night, Junker Jörg was feeling attacked by Satan. So much so he was provoked to violence. He picked up the nearest thing to him – an inkwell – and hurled it at Satan.

It smashed against the wall, staining it.

Within a few months, Junker Jörg, Knight George, would leave the Castle Wartburg, return to his post at Wittenberg, and resume his true name – Martin Luther.

The story of the inkwell is a legend, most likely based on his own statement about his stay in the Castle Wartburg where he had “driven the devil away with ink” (quoted from Redeemer Lutheran, Huntington Beach’s website here: http://www.redeemer-lutheran.net/Articles/1000039345/Redeemer_Lutheran_Church/Media_Center/Pastors_Articles/Throwing_Ink_at.aspx).

But what is not legend is that Luther fought against Satan, as do we all! Satan is real. He is a fallen angel – and thus a creation of God and under his authority. He hates God and also hates us!

In Job 40, God describes Satan – so it is thought – as Behemoth. This is likening Satan to a wild and ferocious land beast.

In Job 41, God describes Satan – again, so it is thought – as Leviathan. This is a sea monster of some type. A giant sea serpent or squid. But one that has scales like armor and breaths fire.

This brings to mind a dragon. And this fits in with how Satan is described in the Book of Revelation.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Revelation 12:7-9).

At the end of Job 41, God says that there is nothing like Satan on the earth.

Martin Luther – who fought the devil all his life – would describe Satan this way: auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen. This is commonly translated “on Earth is not his equal” (from stanza one of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, composite translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868).

God’s point in Job 41 – and Luther’s in stanza 1 of A Mighty Fortress is Our God – is that left to our own resources, we are powerless in fighting Satan.

Only God can defeat Satan.

And he did through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us!

That one little word – Jesus – defeats Satan every time. And that one little word is ours through our baptism into Christ!

Satan may be able to take away all that we have. He took away Job’s wealth, children, and health. Luther poetic states that Satan could take away “our life, goods, fame, child and wife.”

But because of Christ, we will live forever and Christ’s Kingdom will be ours!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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The Night Sky

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Job 38:21-32

The starts have been up there in the sky my whole life.

I could stare at them for hours!

The constellations became familiar friends.

The Big Dipper.

Orion’s belt.

The Bear.

And the gentle smear of star dust of the visible arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

One of my favorite places in Chicago is the Adler Planetarium. And my favorite place in the planetarium is the Sky Show.

When I first started writing devotions in the late 1990’s, I used my thoughts that came to me while walking in the predawn hours from my house to my church office.

I called those initial devotions “A Walk in the Dark” and they began with devotions based on looking up at the stars. I followed the Big Dipper into the office.

While I lived in Michigan, I saw my first comet. Hale-Bopp made its record-breaking return to earth’s sky early in 1997. I spent a lot of time in my back yard looking up into the northern sky that Spring.

One year, the Northern Lights made a rare visit to Central Wisconsin and my appreciation for the night sky deepened.

When I look up into the night sky, I am constantly convinced that God is an amazingly artistic Creator.

Genesis 1 tells us that God created the stars, the sun and the moon. He’s the Artist and Physicists of our universe.

And in Job 38, this is part of God’s longed-looked-for reply to Job.

For 35 chapters, Job has been complaining, laying out his case of his innocence and listening to his friends’ accusations.

He’s been calling on God to answer him.

Well, finally God does just that.

But perhaps Job doesn’t get the answer he was looking for.

God points out that He’s the creator of the entire universe. The stars, the planet earth and its diverse life and functions.

And his point is that Job cannot handle the truth he’s been looking for!

Our infinite Creator cannot be understood by our finite minds.

We cannot know all there is to know about God nor about his universe.

The best we can do is to know that we cannot know.

But one thing we can know – God’s love for us. Because God doesn’t explain his love for us. We cannot learn it as we learn science or math lessons.

We experience God’s love in the person of his only Son, Jesus Christ!

That is where this reply of God will lead Job and us. To stop trying to figure out the “whys” and to focus on the “what” of God’s love – Jesus Christ!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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He Lives!

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
Job 19:25

“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” has been a hymn that has been sung at the past 22 Easter Sunday worship services of which I have been presiding or preaching minister.

It also is used at the vast majority of funerals that I have presided or preached at for the last 22 years.

This hymn by Samuel Medley is very popular because of the amazing message that he put in it – the Easter message.

The phrase “He lives” is repeated thirty times over eight stanzas.

Anything repeated that often in a song or poem must be important. And so it is!

That Jesus is alive is incredibly good news. It is the best news of all.

After Jesus died a gruesome death on the cross – and there was no doubt he was dead, no one could survive what Jesus went through – three days later he was alive.

He lives!

But why?

That is the question this hymn answers.

Jesus lives to: save, rule his Church, grant me rich supply, guide me, comfort me, hear my soul’s complaint, silence my fears, wipe away my tears, calm my troubled heart, impart blessings, bless me, plead for me, feed my soul, love me, grant me daily breath, my mansion to prepare, to bring me safely there (to my mansion).

That’s quite a list!

And yet, that’s only part of the Easter message!

Jesus bled and died to save you and I from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.

As we learn from the Book of Job, the devil has some pretty powerful weapons in his arsenal. He’s able to destroy Job’s wealth, his family, and very nearly his health.

But God is more powerful than the devil – no surprise there. The creator is always more powerful than his creation.

But what makes God most powerful is not strength, or weapons, or tactics.

It is something that Satan doesn’t have. Something that we desperately need.

What makes God powerful is love.

God loves us. Even amid death and despair, God’s love is more powerful than anything else.

That’s why Job can say, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

That’s why Jesus goes to the cross to die.

God’s love for us!

And now it’s our turn.

It is Easter Sunday and it is time to celebrate God’s love. Sing a hymn of praise, shout that Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Spend time with your church family. Spend time with your blood family.

But come Easter Monday, it is time to respond to God’s love.

Tell someone else that you know that your Redeemer lives!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Removing Barriers

Image result for Jesus Clears the templeAnd Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Matthew 21:12-13

Jesus the King enters Jerusalem on a donkey. He fulfills prophecy and shows that He is the Prince of Peace, not a conquering King.

But the Peace that Jesus brings will be brought by conquering evil, conquering sin, and conquering the devil.

First stop, the Temple. Jesus drives out those who have turned it into a “den of robbers.”

The King who rides a donkey brings peace back to the Temple of God. Instead of selling, buying, and turning a profit, people will be able to pray to God in peace.

In a few days, Jesus will open the way to God forever by removing the Temple Curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in the Temple.

Jesus brings peace by removing the barriers between man and God. Barriers that man first built up by his son, and barriers that needed to be put into place by God to protect man.

Jesus removes our sin with His sacrificial death on the cross. And takes down the barriers erected by God because when sin is removed, God can safely be approached.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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