Thursday, August 21, 2014

By the Skin of My Teeth

By Colleen Podmore


The well known saying ‘by the skin of my teeth?’ comes from the book of Job.

It means that the person has only just escaped from something. But do teeth have skin? Some people think that skin may refer to gums.

I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only with/by the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20)

Job has lost everything and has only just barely escaped death. He literally has only his skin and bones – everything else has been taken away.

Historical setting

The setting of Job nestles in nicely after Genesis 11, life after the destructive flood, but before Genesis 12 and the call of Abram –around 2000BC.

It says in Genesis 11:2 that people moved eastward and they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

Shinar means Babylonia – so probably around the region of modern day Iraq.

In Job 1:3, he is described as ‘the greatest man among all the people of the East’. But in addition it says he comes from the land of Uz, which was just east of the Jordon River, modern day Jordan, but not as far away as Iraq.   (Indeed Job describes himself in Job 29:1-25)

The book in the Old Testament of the Bible is named after Job and the story about Job is known as wisdom literature and therefore it’s grouped with the psalms, proverbs, Ecclesiastes and song of songs.

It is thought that the author of Job was an inspired Israelite because he uses Yahweh, the covenant name for God and that he drew on oral or other written sources and may have written the account around the time of King Solomon to before the exile.

The situation

Job’s wealth was legendary – but he lost it all.

In chapter one, we have a scene in heaven and a scene on earth. We won’t look at the scene in heaven – remember that Job and his friends had no idea what was going on in heaven, which explains the events that happen to Job.

Moving down to verse 14, we read about the first of four catastrophes in Job’s life – a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, …”

First his oxen and donkeys were raided and carried off and his servants were killed. There would be no crops planted that year or no harvest brought in.

Then down to verse 16, ‘another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants”. Maybe a lightning strike which killed all his sheep, which meant no wool for making clothes and blankets and to trade , no meat for food and no income!

In verse 17 we read that Job lost all his camels. “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off…” The servants were killed. Job may have used his camels to take his produce to market

The forth catastrophe verse 18, was perhaps the hardest for Job to bear - his children were killed. His children were his legacy. His name, which would live on through them, but now was effectively wiped out.

Job’s first test! Then we read after that, that he was also afflicted with painful sores on every part of his body –Job2:7


Job not only lost his livelihood, his name but he also suffered physically and later on we find he also suffered mentally when we read in chapter 13:21, Job pleading with God, “Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.”

Finally we could add to Job’s miseries – he had three friends who came to help him but just added to his suffering. Their advice seems well-meaning and full of wisdom but essentially they just advised Job to repent of his sin – because he must have done something wrong – and God would forgive him and all would be well!

Elihu went a bit further and agreed that Job must have sinned but perhaps God was using this experience to teach him something!

Would we give him any different advice?

What advice or help would we give Job?


Human perspectives on why people suffer

·         Agree with his three friends – Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar - if Job is suffering it is not because God is evil or unfair – it must be because Job has sinned and therefore is suffering because he is guilty.  (Conversely we can suffer through the consequences of sin)

·         Agree with Elihu – Job must be a sinner and God is punishing Job with the purpose of redeeming him. (Conversely God does discipline His children –Hebrews 12:5,6)

·         Agree with Job who claims to be innocent and agonises over why God is silent

Divine perspectives on why people suffer

·         Satan seeks to either alienate mankind from God – through temptation (Gen 3; Matt4)

·         Satan seeks to alienate God from mankind – through accusation. (His name is accuser –Zec3:1; Rev 12:10)

The accusation

Satan accuses Job of trusting God only because he is so blessed – take away the blessings and Job will no longer be righteous

Job never loses his faith. He shines in the dark. Although he agonises over the apparent silence of God, he believes one day he will be redeemed and see God – Job 13:18; 14:13-17; 16:19; 19:25-27.

Although he curses the day of his birth (Ch 3), he never curses God.


Finally, do you feel like you are suffering today and are not sure why? Then we as the people of God must pray and intercede. We must keep our theories to ourselves about why – we just don’t know.

If there is sin – repent. If there is chastisement then take it and learn from it. If it comes from the accuser then let us stand firm in our faith

Let us be vindicated by God and silence our accuser.

Let us agree with Job who says even though he slay me; yet will I trust Him ’ Job 13:15

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Way

By Colleen Podmore

On the night before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them.

                Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.

                In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you;

for I go to prepare a place for you’ John 14:1-2

Jesus said, ‘…for I go to prepare a place for you…’

Now there are a couple of ways of interpreting this statement…’


Did Jesus mean that he was going to heaven and was going to build a place for us – like some kind of divine carpenter? I am going ‘there’ to prepare a place for you?

-No, I don’t think so, because he had already said that His father’s house had many rooms or dwelling places. So our dwelling place in heaven is already built, already in existence and it’s big enough for everyone who has a ticket (Rev 21)

Jesus said ’…for I go to prepare a place for you…’ perhaps Jesus meant that ‘one day’ he was going to prepare a place for us? Once again probably not; God’s plan is already in place. He is not just reacting to circumstances but already has a programme in place which will find its future fulfillment.

Jesus said, ‘I go’ and the Way He goes is the Way He prepares a place for us! He goes via the cross. He makes the Way for us to follow Him; through His going.

‘…for ‘I go’ to prepare a place for you...’ Because I go in this Way, this will make it possible for you to follow me. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Way to the Father because He is Truth and Life! (John 14:6)

‘If I go and prepare a place for you I will back and take you to be with me forever’. (John 14:3) Amen

 Jesus is the Way because He is the only One who could pay the price for the sins of the world – the perfect sacrificial lamb and He will come again and until He does he has asked us, His church, His Bride to remember Him through this simple ceremony of sharing in the bread and the cup.

Symbols of his body broken and His blood shed to make a Way by the forgiveness of sins to all who believe and put their trust in him.



Sunday, August 10, 2014


By Odon Bulamba

We are half way through the year and before we realize it will be the end of the year.  This morning I was thinking, if I was called to evaluate what I have done since 1st Jan to now, how will my evaluation look like?  I can say I have been eating and I haven’t missed a meal since January.  I haven’t missed my time to go to bed and I have enjoyed my sleep.  I didn’t miss out on going for my walks.  But when I think about my tasks God that gave me, did I do it? 


This made me think that it might be good to remind one another about our gifts.  How do I manage my gifts?  Before becoming a manager we have to go to a school to learn how to do that role.  It’s easy to learn how to manage money or companies but it’s hard to learn to manage ourselves.  Many managers can manage a business or even a country but can’t manage themselves.


A gift is something very important especially to the donor.  The gifted person often thinks the gift they have is not important.  God our Father gives us everything that we have, all that we see and surround us is a gift from God, even the way you are sitting is a gift and you got it free.  In this country when someone is preparing for marriage, they will send invitations but in my country people have to contribute to that marriage before to get an invitation to the wedding.  Meaning that you give and then you receive.  The bride and groom might send out hundreds of invitations for their friends and family to contribute but maybe only half will come back.  The bride and groom will impose in the invitation what they must give to them before coming to the wedding ceremony.  That is not a gift, it is an order. 


When people go to the wedding they complain.  They contributed to the hiring of the music or the food, so they complain about the food and music.  Because they gave, they expect to get back.  With God that is not the case, He is our Father and gives without thinking about what He will get back.


God gave us life in exchange for nothing.  I’ve seen people on Trade-me selling unwanted gifts.  Imagine if you give someone something from your heart and then you find it on trade-me as an unwanted gift.  The bidding starts at one dollar.  If you are the one who gave it, how will you feel?  Maybe you will think, “What is wrong with him, I gave him that gift for a purpose and now he is selling it”. 


There is a sign of love behind that gift but we don’t see that love but only focus on the material.  Once I saw someone say, “oh, is that all that you are giving to me, you can’t do that to me, no way”.  Sometimes we give and the person is not grateful because they expected more.  Maybe God gives you the gift of prayer and you say, “No way God, I am after a big gift, the gift of miracles, to bring back the dead” just so people can see you performing your gifts. 


Proverbs 18:16, “Your gift makes room for you and will take you in front of great men”. 


We have two types of gifts, physical and spiritual.  Some people were just born with abilities, they can think quickly and naturally they are gifted with that.  Some can sing and when they sing it is like “wow” and someone else will practice all year and they won’t be able to sing.  Some are just naturally gifted.  Some can dance and others not.  When you get a gift it can be physical or spiritual but you have to perform, if you leave that gift somewhere, nothing can work.


You can be intelligent but if you don’t study you will have nothing.  You can have money but if you don’t know how to look after that money, you will lose it.  You can be very beautiful but if you don’t know how to look after your body then you will lose it.  One of the prettiest girls in the world, “Miss Universe” has a terribly messy room.  Oprah and other actors, we know them because of their gifts but we don’t know those people. 


Some people before to see the fruit of their gifts, they have to work hard.  For example, our one hour service, how long did it take to prepare the songs, the communion, the preaching and leading?  It will take a long time to prepare something that only takes a few minutes for a human being to be satisfied.  We can watch a movie that takes only two hours but the movie took years to produce.  We don’t understand why they spend many hours to prepare something that we will only benefit from a very short time.  If you don’t practice and practice again, you won’t satisfy the need of the church, those who surround you and what God expects form you.  We need to practice our gifts.


To be a medical doctor, is a very good job.  You will get appointments with patients and if you get many, you will know that means you are a good doctor.  The same with a beautician.  You are not only making money and receiving people but sacrificing yourself because you don’t have time for yourself.  People are pleased by your gift but you don’t have time for yourself anymore.  The more you are gifted, the more you have to work and the more you work, more people God will send to you and the more situations will come for you to sort out and you will feel like, “oh, no the phone rings again” or “oh, no someone at my door”.  That is normal.  Your boss puts pressure on you because you are gifted.


Once you have your gift, God stands next to you and looks at you.  What was Samson’s gift? To preach to bring justice.  He was not only intelligent but physically strong.  He saved an entire nation and he killed a lion.  His secret was in his hair.  What is hair?  We all get our hair cut and sometimes we feel that it annoys us and when it falls out we don’t care but if the fingernail falls out we care.  Samson’s gift had a condition, to not shave his head.  Maybe Samson’s wife used to play with his hair when he laid next to her. 


The gift we have maybe sometimes appear small but it is very important for God.  Last time when Robbie gave to us this microphone, he gave it to the church for all of us to use for the glory of God.  What if I said to Robbie, “no I wanted a different type of microphone”?  First of all, I know nothing about microphones and Robbie knows very well about microphones, much better than me.  Robbie went to the store and researched and found the right one.  My job was just to receive it but my way of receiving it wasn’t correct.  Children often say, “I don’t want this one, give it to my sister” because they want something better.  Then the mother says, “I’m not giving you anything”.   Because He loves us, God rebukes us. 


When I was a child, my father would rebuke me on the spot.   I would feel angry and say, “I will kill you”.  I’ll walk away and my father will call me back and rebuke me in front of my friends who would laugh at me and at school they will mock me and I won’t have peace at school at all.  God sometimes will rebuke you and you feel that the situation lets you down, “why am I here, in this job, next to this person” etc.  This is all because He is making you stronger.  In the long term what my father did for me has helped me.  Without my father’s rebuke I couldn’t become what I am today. 

I have friends who have not grown up in a good way, they have become bad people because their parents treated them like precious eggs and now these friends don’t respect their parents.


Now we can see our God who gave David his small gift.  In front of Goliath, David was supposed to work with that situation.  Goliath with his big army.  The giant is there.  How will you fight?  Saul took off all his tools. Imagine a king giving you his jacket and sword and promising you all that you want if you win the battle.  But David couldn’t walk with all that armor on him because it wasn’t his gift.  He said, “These tools are not mine, they are too big and heavy for me”. 


David took off all those gifts from man and used what God gave to him which was a slingshot and stones.  Goliath mocked him.  David knew his gift and he knew how to use a slingshot because he had been practicing.  Many people will tell you they don’t want to use a slingshot because it is boring, they want to use a gun which is easier.  Your gift, no matter how useless it looks, it is your gift and you need to practice.  By practicing it, you will become the master of it and God’s glory will be seen through it.


David killed Goliath.  After killing him, everybody was happy.  He took the sword and chopped off the head of the giant.  He had victory.  Your gift can support an entire nation.  Maybe your gift is to move the chairs on a Sunday at church.  It might be small but don’t neglect it.


How do you manage your gift?  To manage you have to first discover the abilities God has given you physically and spiritually.  Pray and ask God how you should use that gift.  Then plan how you will use that gift today. 


For example, Tyrone is good in painting and before he starts to paint a house, he plans how he will go about it.  He knows he has to remove the spider webs and put a sheet down on the floor and he wears overalls to protect his clothes.  We will look at Tyrone and think it is good but we don’t know the amount of effort he put into painting the house.  When Robbie plays at church, he practices maybe for hours to play a three minute song.  When he finishes he praises God because many practice but still fail. Robbie plans how to be ready to play for church on Sunday. 


After planning we have to be ready.  We have to ask ourselves, “Am I ready to deliver what I have?  Many people don’t want to deliver but just to supervise others. 


Hebrews 12:16,17.  Esau gave away his birthright for a bowl of soup.  He then started to cry and search with tears to get it back.  Because he was hungry (which is a temporary situation) he accepted to give away his birthright for a bowl of soup.  To be the first born is an amazing gift.  We were supposed to say Abraham, Isaac and Esau but he sold his birthright so now it is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 


Esau didn’t look in the long term and ask himself what would happen if he gave away the gift God gave him.  We often don’t think what it means to be chosen by God to be saved.  We often exchange the birthright God has given us for  a two minute pleasure.


I don’t blame Jacob for being tricky.  I’ll say Esau is stupid.  Would you exchange your $10,000 vehicle for a $100 cellphone?  It’s up to you to decide.  Would you exchange a microphone for a house?  Would you exchange a bowl of soup for everything?  Stupidity makes us sometimes to lose our gift.  All of us are stupid and do things wrongly but sometimes it makes us lose what God has prepared for us.  When Esau drank the soup, his brother was thinking, “yes, I get you”.  Esau maybe enjoyed the soup but it wouldn’t have stayed in his body long.  Eventually, he would have lost it in the toilet while Jacob got the birthright forever.  Esau cried and wanted his birthright back but it was too late.


In order for your gift to be well managed, you need to use your mind.

Col 2:3, if I do this what am I going to get?  Is your mind consulted and do you evaluate what you want to do?  In our lives there are circumstances and challenges that can’t be avoided.  I remember meeting a pair of twins.  One was smoking marijuana.  I asked him why and he said it was because he was brought up in a family that all smoke it.  The twin brother does not smoke and he said doesn’t smoke because his whole family smoke it.  He could see the consequences and decided not to do it.  He set his mind that this is something he will never do while the other one thought it was enjoyable.  For your gift to work effectively, you need to set your mind, to make a decision. 


For example, in the Bible there is the prodigal son who left home.  He was given a gift (money) and he couldn’t manage it and finally lost all the money.  He started to feed himself with the food of pigs.  Pig food is horrible.  I once crossed a situation where I had to eat rotten kumara given to pigs because I was so hungry that I was seeing double vision.  I praised God and as I tried to put my hand down among to grab the pig food, the pigs pushed me and if I wasn’t careful, I could lose my arm. 


The prodigal son thought enough is enough and decided to change his mind, “Although I lost the gift I was given, I have to make a decision”  He said goodbye to the boss of the pigs and decided enough is enough and did a u-turn and went back to his father.


Once you do a mistake, make a decision.  You can’t just say sorry to God and then go back again to it two days later.  We can see the church today is drunk with sin because they don’t want to manage their gift properly.  Repentance means to change the mind and never go back to it again but the church continues to say forgive me and then go back to it. 


One time I peed when my dad was tickling me and people would mock me.  Then I made a decision that when I get tickled, I would shut my mind down and it would not annoy me anymore.  For your gift to be effective you have to do that and then God can take you to a higher level.  David who used a stone became a king later while Goliath was stronger but became nothing.


Computers have a default which is something inside your computer so you can go back to it.  It is like a reference point to go back to. What is your default point in your life? Is it your gift, your talent, is it God or something else?  You can take a pig and a sheep and put them together in a field of mud.  The pig will enjoy it but the sheep won’t stay there for long.  The sheep will baa and tell you they have to leave.  The pig can be washed but it will go back again to the mud. 


The church today is collapsing because we don’t want to manage our gift but prefer to go back to the rubbish.  Satan is not afraid for you to preach or sing or go to church on Sunday because he knows when you go home you will do the same sin again.  But when you change your mind to follow your gift, that is when satan is shaken. 

We have to look after our gift and know how to manage it.  We have to use our minds and decide to not go in the wrong direction.  If you make a mistake, then make a decision to change and then continue on the journey.  Many of us in churches have degrees or even PhD’s but we are still stupid in front of God.  You can be a prime-minister but be found drunk on the street.  You can be director of a company but sleeping with prostitutes.  Regardless of what people appear to be, we can still know the reality. 


The Church focuses on the sins we see but there are sins inside of us that are killing the church today and that is why the church is becoming weaker.  The sin of the heart.  For example, I can be with you and laugh but inside I can hold something that doesn’t come out: hatred, pride etc.  Or the pastor decides not preach about a certain topic being afraid he will offend people.  The church starts to limit the gifts of God.  Set your mind on things above.  Don’t look at man and things around but God and let what God has given you to be useful.  Those who mocked you will say you are right tomorrow.


Ask God to reveal our gifts to us and how to manage them and use them for God’s glory