Devotional on the Psalms

2019 – Brandywine Falls…just south of Cleveland, OH

Psalm 8: Why do you bother with us?
In all of life there’s a need for balance and in Psalm 8 we’re given a nice example of this. On one hand, I’m a mere speck in the Universe, practically invisible in comparison to God’s wondrous Creation. Honestly, sometimes I get this and sometimes I don’t. Rick Warren starts his famous Purpose Driven Life book with the words, “It’s not about you” and I can read that and respond, “Yes, I know!” Other times I get caught seeing things only from my tiny perspective: “Why are they singing that song again? I don’t like it nearly as much as I like the others. Let’s sing some southern gospel, that’s my kind of music!” At times like that it doesn’t hurt for me to remember that the worship service isn’t really designed for me in the first place. Still, I know I can go too far with this humility stuff. Back in the Stone Age of my childhood church kids were taught to say, “God didn’t make any junk.” I’m valued by the Lord. Still, once in a while it’s a good idea for me to look around and realize that everything isn’t in orbit around me after all and to join David in humbly asking the Almighty, “Why do you bother with ” me at all?
Take Away: It really isn’t all about me – or you!

Devotional on Job

2019 – Niagara Falls, NY

A short look at Elihu
Job 32: And rest assured, I won’t be using your arguments!
I’m not sure what to do with Elihu. He’s the fourth person who comes to speak to Job. When the first three speak, Job interacts with them, responding to the things they say. Elihu, however, has a long monologue. Job doesn’t answer him and, at the end of the book, God addresses the three friends but not Elihu. The experts say that his speech is likely an “add on” to the book of Job, written after the fact. That, though, is confusing too. Why would anyone do that? In spite of the fact that Elihu claims that he won’t be using the arguments of Job’s friends, he actually doesn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said to, and refuted by, Job. As a devotional reader and writer, I’ll leave these puzzling things to others, but I don’t think I want to work my way through his sermon with the same intensity I did with the other speakers. So what will I do with this? Maybe it’s reasonable to focus in on the fact that Elihu doesn’t seem to have been listening very well to what the others said. Sometimes we’re so intent on what we are about to say that we don’t hear what others say. When we do speak, we just restate, in our own words, their thoughts. Or, I can think about Elihu’s waving of the “youth flag;” thinking he’s bringing a fresh perspective, when he’s just as bound by the old way of thinking as Job’s three friends. Being a traditionalist who can’t handle opposing truth is not necessarily tied to one’s age. Finally, I can see here an example of how, if we start with the wrong premise we’re bound to arrive at the wrong conclusion. Like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Elihu starts off thinking that bad things only happen to bad people. Because of that, he arrives at the wrong conclusion: Job must be a bad person. Okay, enough of Elihu…on to the appearance of the Lord, Himself!
Take Away: Start with the wrong premise, arrive at the wrong conclusion.