Dust and Ashes

I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance. (NLT) -Job 42:6
Have you felt a need lately for God’s forgiveness? We go through life striving and pretending to be exceptional at parenting, loving, or anything else. But when we don’t measure up, we make excuses and quickly brush it under the rug for no one to see. Through those actions we refuse to recognize any need for God to strengthen us. Instead, let’s ask God to forgive us of our pride and arrogance from ignoring our dependence on God.
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Victory Through Rule-Keeping Or Victory Through Grace?

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.” Ro 5:20 NLT

Why did God do away with Old Testament law and institute grace? Because while the law had the power to let people know how far short they fell, it didn’t have the power to make them want to obey it. Let’s suppose you have a tendency to eat too much chocolate. You want to be free from the habit, so you make a law for yourself: “I must not eat chocolate. I cannot eat chocolate. I will never eat chocolate again.” You even convince yourself that for you it’s a sin to eat chocolate. But this self-made law doesn’t set you free from the desire for chocolate; it actually seems to increase your problem! Now all you can think about is chocolate; it’s on your mind day and night. Eventually you find yourself sneaking around to eat chocolate because you told everybody you were never going to eat it again. You can’t eat chocolate in front of people so you hide when you eat it, and end up feeling really guilty because now you’ve become a “sneaky” sinner. Now you understand the pain that comes from being “under the law” instead of free in Christ. New believers often focus their attention on God’s laws in order to control their passions, but it doesn’t work. As they mature, however, they learn to direct their attention to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and discover that He can set you free from the desire to sin. The law requires living by willpower; living by grace requires drawing each day on the power of God’s Spirit.

2 Chronicles 25:9 And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.

A very important question this seemed to be to the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to make the sacrifice. “Why lose that which may be so usefully employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small income!” All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the doctrine of “we must live” has quite sufficient weight. The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the purse-strings, and what we lose for His sake He can repay a thousand-fold. It is ours to obey His will, and we may rest assured that He will provide for us. The Lord will be no man’s debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart’s-ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; His frown and a palace would be hell to a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Focus on Your Given Role

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
     and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the LORD has taken away;
     may the name of the LORD be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
— Job 1:20–22

Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin have dedicated their entire lives to serving God. In the 1970s they left the United States where they were born and moved to Israel in order to raise their family in the Jewish homeland. In addition, the Henkins became a household name in the realm of Jewish education, establishing a prestigious learning center in the heart of Jerusalem.

The Henkins were well-known, respected, and beloved in the Jewish community.

So it was especially devastating to hear that of all people, it was their son who was gunned down along with his wife in front of their children last month. The murder of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin on October 1, 2015 is widely considered the tragic beginning of the current wave of terror attacks that continues to pass through Israel. Eitam and Na’ama were shot as they drove in their car with their four children in the backseat of the car. The elder Henkins, Yehuda and Chana, were left to mourn their children and also to raise the four traumatized grandchildren left behind.

With all this senseless violence and tragedy, we might imagine that the Henkins were full of spiritual doubts and frustrations. But listen to the words of Chana Henkin as she addressed her students just one week after the murders. She said: “The whole world is coming up to me now and saying, ‘Be strong! Be strong!’ I want to tell them, I don’t know what will be in the future, but I do not feel any frustration regarding faith.”

She continued, “I never believed that the Holy One, Blessed be He, gives out prizes. I never thought that is what He does, so it’s not like I was disappointed with Him. God put us here to fulfill a role in the world. All of us have a role. Sometimes that role is pleasant, sometimes that role is not pleasant. But we must get up to fulfill that role, that’s why we are here in this world.”

What amazing words of strength and faith! Chana Henkin taught us that God gives out roles, not rewards in this world. We must accept God’s decrees with devotion, not judgment.

This unfathomable faith parallels that of Job. Just after being told that all his possessions had been lost and all his children had perished, Job replied with great faith, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

As the Henkins taught us — and as Job demonstrated in the Bible — it is possible to attain such faith in God even today. It is possible to praise Him even in our most trying times. Let us learn from these spiritual giants to live more peacefully and purposefully as we focus on our roles and leave our future reward to God.

Dad, Show Your Children You Love Them

“His father…Filled with love…ran to his son.” Lk 15:20 NLT

Canoeing specialist Bill Havens was almost guaranteed to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. But a few months before the games he learned that his wife would likely give birth to their first child while he was away. She told him that she could make it on her own, but this was a milestone Bill didn’t want to miss. So he surprised everyone and stayed home. He greeted his infant son, Frank, into the world on August 1, 1924. Though he always wondered what might have been, he said he never regretted his decision. He poured his life into that little lad, and shared with him a love for the rapids. Twenty-four years passed, and the Olympic Games were held in Finland. This time his son Frank was chosen to compete in the canoeing event. The day after the competition, Bill received a telegram from Frank that read: “Dear Dad, thanks for waiting around for me to be born. I’m coming home with the gold medal that you should have won.” It was signed “Your loving son, Frank.” Bill Havens wanted his family to know they always came first, no matter what. And that made him a hero to a little boy named Frank. Bill understood that medals tarnish, records are broken, and achievements are soon forgotten. These things don’t satisfy. What does? The love you have for your children, and the love they have for you. Jesus pointed out that even when a child is wayward, a parent’s love can restore them. Are you neglecting your family today? If so, take action immediately!

Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God’s Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord’s people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah’s wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond-SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN. The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God’s blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in His warning given to Peter, the prayer with which He preceded it, and the gentle way in which He bore with Peter’s boastful denial that he needed such a caution.