Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Book of Job Can Go Back on the Shelf!

BibleBookcase

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have completed the Book of Job! 

Job 42 - Job's Repentance and Restoration

LINK: Job 42
  
BACKGROUND

Having shut his mouth long enough to listen, Job "gets it"!  His eyes finally "see" God (42:5) and His sovereign purposes in all of His suffering. He knew God in a deeper way and understood that He was in control. One of my favorite verses in this whole book is:


   I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; 
But now my eye sees You. 
(Job 42:5)  

Job had a fuller picture of God through his suffering. God wants us to see Him with all of our senses. 

This leads Job to repentance for questioning God's sovereignty and justice (42:6) and the replacement of what he had lost (42:10-17, although lost children can never be replaced just by having new ones). Between Job's repentance and replacement,  God had some well-deserved rebuke for Job's friends!

REFLECTION 

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

While never mentioning His name, Jesus is the answer to many of the issues raised by Job:



  • Someone must help us approach God (9:32,33) - 1 Timothy 2:5 
  • Is there life after death? (14:14) - John 11:25 
  • There is one in heaven working on our behalf (16:19) - Hebrews 9:24 
  • There is one who can save us from judgment (19:25) - Hebrews 7:24,25 
  • Where do we find God? (23:3-5) - John 14:9 
  • What is important in life? (21:7-15) - Matthew 16:26; John 3:16

APPLICATION/PRAYER

Spend time in praising God that Jesus is the answer to life's biggest issues by meditating on the verses provided. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Job 40 & 41 - Job Ready to Shut Up and Listen

LINK: Job 40 & 41 (Listen to the Dramatized NIV version!)

BACKGROUND

Job 40 is the ending of God's first speech begun in Job 38. He ends it just the way he started: with a questioning rebuke and challenge: 

“Now what do you have to say for yourself? 
Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, 
into court and press charges?”" 
(Job 40:2, The Message

Woah!  Job answers:


 "I've talked way too much, way too much. 
I'm ready to shut up and listen." 
(Job 40:5, The Message)  

So God continues with a second set of questions that, like the first speech, includes a challenge (40:6-7) and a rebuke (40:8-14), and questions about nature (50:15-41:43). This speech does not end with a closing rebuke. Through this, God shows Job that he is a limited human being with many frailties, and Job could not judge the God who created everything or the right to ask why. Again, God drives home the point: He is God and Job is not. 

REFLECTION 

God does allow us to ask, "Why is this happening to me?"  But He would prefer we eventually get to the "What are you trying to teach me through this?"  In our struggles we often do not give God time to reveal His larger purposes.  We are so quick to complain, and He endures it patiently because He is a loving God, but He desires for us to grow and sometimes to just "Shut up and listen" like Job finally learned to do. 

Recently, my husband and I were privileged to Skype with a person who became a follower of Jesus two years ago in a closed country with many hardships. It is also dangerous to be a follower of Jesus there. He said:


Jesus said He would change my life, and He really did! I go through lots of ups and down. Now I see things so differently. Before when bad things happened, I would say, “Why, why, why did this happen? Why am I not lucky like others. Now, I know God does not throw our suffering away. He molds and remakes it. When painful things happen, I know that God is taking care of me. My life is fantastic. I am full of His joy.

And all this man wants to do it to be salt and light to his people. WOW! 

APPLICATION 

Can you respond like this man? 

Set aside time in prayer right now to just listen to God. Remember this wonderful book that can facilitate that process:

God Guides 

It is a book I think every believer needs to read! 

PRAYER

Lord, allow this man to continue to respond in joy. Make him salt and light among his people. Help us to respond in joy to all of life’s circumstances. Speak Lord, we are listening. Amen. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Job 38 & 39 - God Speaks Out of the Storm

LINKS: Job 38 & Job 39 (Read over the next two days)

BACKGROUND

God arrived in a storm to bring revelation to Job. Job switches from the plaintiff in this court case to the defendant, and God comes out with a bang! His questioning of the defendant reveals His greatness and man's smallness.

He rebuked Job for speaking words without knowledge (38:2). I love the way The Living Bible paraphrases this: "Why are you using your ignorance to deny My providence?" Job did not know everything about God; but, in pride, did not acknowledge that. Warren Wiersbe says, "Knowledge of our own ignorance is the first step toward true wisdom" (Be Patient). That is so true. The more I grow. The more I realize how much I do not know about God!

In these chapters, the heart of God's questions are: "Do you understand all about the physical (Job 38) and animal (Job 39) worlds? 

The Life Application Bible says:
God used Job's ignorance of the earth's natural order to reveal his ignorance of God's moral order. If Job did not understand the workings of God's physical creation, how could he possibly understand God's mind and character? There is no standard or criterion higher than God himself by which to judge. God himself is the standard. Our only option is to submit to his authority and rest in his care. (p. 888) 
I want to share the diagram of God's justice again because it bears repeating:

God's Jusitce
REFLECTION 

If I have said it once, I will say it again. This REALLY trips people up in their walks with God. That is why I love this diagram.  We have our own "Law of Fairness" that we think that God should operate under; but for obvious reasons, He does not operate under anyone because He is GOD. He is the standard of justice. All of His ways are just. We may not understand it, as Job did not, but it is what it is. Learning to rest in that is key to growth!

APPLICATION

Please continue to simmer on this concept and talk to God about it. It is crucial to a vital relationship with God. Here is a picture I took once when things were out of control. It is titled, "The Virtue of Humility: Realizing That He is God, and I Am Not":



PRAYER

I am grateful that You are God. I am grateful that You have Your own standard of justice that You created, and I do not need to figure everything out. Lord, I pray that everyone in the Bible Book Club can submit to that truth and live their lives accordingly. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Job 36 & 37 - God is Great

LINK: Job 36 & 37

BACKGROUND

Elihu is concluding his long speech by saying, "Bear with me a little longer, and I will show you there is more to be said in God's behalf" (36:2) with a proclamation of God's justice and power in his purposes for man (36:3-25) and His mighty power in nature (36:26-37:13).

In 36:3-25, Elihu asserts that God is just and mighty, but He is not lacking in mercy. Elihu asserts that suffering leads people to repent of pride and wrong conduct (36:8-12). He agrees with the other three friends: that God always rewards people in this life according to how they live their life. Job has already disagreed with the others, but the others stressed punishment for sinful actions while Elihu stresses the sinful attitude of pride.  The truly godly will respond to suffering with an acceptance of God's dealings with them.  God wanted to take him to a spacious place (36:16) through the path of suffering but he was not to do it through the path of money, accomplishment, or suicide.  Elihu tried to turn Job's attention to the power of God instead of his pain. Job should praise God rather than reprove him.

The key verse in these two chapters is 36:26:"How great is God -- beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out" (NIV). Job is a poetic book. (The other poetic books are Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) One theme in the poetical literature is that God is incomprehensible. We can never know enough about Him to answer all of life's questions (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Some things will always be a mystery to us. In 36:26-37:24, Elihu uses images from the physical and natural world to show God's creative power, majesty, and might that are incomprehensible (36:26,29;37:5). Even nature is under His control and does His bidding, both for cursing and blessing. God is sovereign over all of man's ways. 

Elihu made a path for God to finally speak to Job.

REFLECTION 

This chapter reminds me again of the Malaysian thunderstorms that I mentioned in Job 26. The whole incomprehensibility of God comes out in there too when Bildad exclaims, "Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand" (26:14)? We really cannot totally wrap our minds around how big God really is. We can have a little knowledge of Him, but there is no way we can plumb His depths and really figure Him out. I like that about God. For others, it can be really hard. They want to know all the answers to life's questions and want to know why God does or does not do certain things. I think Job might have been one of those types of people. We will see tomorrow how God responds to all of that. 

Stay Tuned!

PRAYER

God, You know all. Help us to rest in that and respect You for it. Amen. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Job 34 & 35 - Elihu Speaks of God's Justice and Sovereignty

LINK: Job 34 & 35

BACKGROUND

Yes, Elihu is still talking. He talks longer than the three other friends combined.

These chapters contain his second and third speeches.

In review:

His first speech in Job 33 refutes Job's claim that God is silent and does not respond to him (13:33) by claiming that God does speak through dreams and pain.

His second speech in Job 34 refutes Job's claim that God is unjust because He does not relieve Job of his suffering (19:6-7, 27:2) by claiming that God is just.

His third speech in Job 35 refutes Job's claim that God is unconcerned because He does not reward Job for his innocence (10:7) by claiming that God is sovereign.

REFLECTION

When I was fairly young in the Lord, a very wise and well-respected preacher came to preach at my church and said something profound, "The Bible says that God is just, but it does not say that He is fair." As I have read the book of Job this January, I have often thought about this man's wise words. God is not fair, and there is a big difference between fairness and justice, and we better get this straight in our minds before we can really begin to have an accurate view of God. I think the book of Job helps us to grapple with this.
Elihu emphasized that God is sovereign, and a sovereign God can be indicted by no law or judged by no court. The king can do no wrong. God was not appointed to His throne, so He can’t be taken from it (Job 34:13). To say that God is unjust is to say that He is not God and therefore has no right to be on the throne. But God controls our very breath and can take our lives away in an instant (vv. 14–15; Acts 17:25, 28). “It is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22).  
 (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 34:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
This diagram from the Life Application Bible explains it so well:

God's Jusitce
(View a larger picture HERE.)
What, then, is the God I worship?...You are the most hidden from us and yet the most present among us, the most beautiful and yet the most strong, ever enduring; and yet we cannot comprehend you. -- St. Augustine
Do you see God as just or fair? Do you see Him as sovereign and good in all your circumstances? As the above says, the correct response is to appeal directly to Him. If you cannot wrap your mind around this, you are not alone. Many people struggle with this. I strongly encourage you to talk to God about this and really listen to what He says. Let Him reveal Himself to you today!

PRAYER

Lord, we praise You that You are a just God. Thank You that You are 100% sovereign and good in everything that comes our way, and that we can trust You to be 100% good. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Job 33 - The Problem of Pain

LINK: Job 33

BACKGROUND

In this chapter, Elihu introduces a new insight to the purpose of suffering not covered by the other three friends. Elihu's main thesis is that God permits suffering in order to keep people from sinning and going to the "pit" (used five times in this chapter).

Elihu does quite a bit of quoting of what Job has already said, but he does not get it exactly right because he says that Job has said that he was sinless. Job never claimed to be perfect (9:20-21). He just claimed to have not sinned to bring on the punishment that he was now receiving. He was blameless in this particular situation.

Elihu was correct in quoting Job as saying that God is unjust (13:24, 27; 16:9; 19:7, 11). Job did ask God why and particularly why God had not given him his "day in court."

REFLECTION

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis said: 


“God whispers to us in our pleasures, 
speaks in our conscience, 
but shouts in our pains: 
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

British Congregational theologian P.T. Forsyth said:


“It is a greater thing to pray for 
pain’s conversion than its removal.”

Pain can be positive.

APPLICATION

Pray to embrace the pain you are now experiencing in your life. Let God use it to humble you and bring you to a place of total dependence on Him.

My application is to put The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis on my reading list. I have never read it before even though I am looking at it sitting on my bookshelf as I type this entry! 

2012 Update: I have still not read it, and it is three years later! I just finished an eight year reading goal. So, I will do it in 2012!

2014: I started it, and I did not finish it due to other pressing things going on. But I have read several of his other books! I need an audiobook. So I will put it back on my player! :) 

PRAYER

Lord, we accept the pain and sorrow and want You to use it for Your glory. Help us to depend on You Lord. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Job 32 - Elihu Speaks

LINK: Job 32

BACKGROUND

The younger Elihu (his name literally means "my God is He") has been standing by and listening to Job's three "comforters" who tried in vain to convince Job that he could not be innocent and needed to repent. Since they were talked out, Elihu the Buzite (probably a descendant of Abraham's nephew Buz, Genesis 22:20-21) begins his first of four speeches:

(1) Job 32:6-33:33 
(2) Job 34
(3) Job 35
(4) Job 36-37

As you read, you will note that he has a different way of accusing Job than the other three. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar claimed that Job was suffering because he had sinned. Elihu believed that Job was pridefully sinning because he was suffering. He was in sin for his reaction to the pain that God had allowed to be afflicted on him. This is most definitely a different tack. He is the only person that Job does not answer. Elihu is a bridge to God's answer that starts in Job 38.

Elihu is a bit prideful himself when he says "Hear what I know!" in Job 32-33. He is also angry at the three friends for not being able to refute Job and angry at Job for justifying himself. With all that, there is quite a bit of truth in Elihu's speech compared to the other three. He exhorted Job to look at suffering from a different perspective and for the higher purposes God might have in mind for it. In Job 33, however, we will see that he wrongly assumes that if Job responds correctly to the suffering he will be healed and restored (33:23-30). In Job 34, he wrongly assumes that suffering is connected with sin.

REFLECTION

The whole time I have been meditating on Elihu's words, I have thought of Paul. He is a perfect example of someone who certainly did not "deserve" to suffer and was not being punished for sin. He was also a great example of someone who reacted rightly to his suffering because he had a very high view of the sovereignty of God and God's higher purposes for his life.

George and I studied 2 Corinthians with a group of like-minded people back in 1994. We were exhorted by our leader to develop a biblically based "theology of suffering" as we launched out of our comfort zones and into the world! I cannot tell you how much I go back to that study over and over again and praise God.

The gist of the "good" part of Elihu's speech is that sometimes God allows suffering to keep us from sinning! Paul certainly indicates that in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul's suffering kept him from pride. Boy, did I ever need to hear that today! I have been suffering over the last few days and feeling very weak/wimpy (Ask my friend, Kim, who listened to me cry for over an hour yesterday. Thanks Kim!). Satan knows RIGHT where my weak spot is, and he has been twisting the thorn for days, but I know that God has allowed it so that I do not get a big head!!!! Praise be to God.

Even though Job had not brought on the trial by sinning, he has sinned in the midst of the trial by very proudly demanding an explanation from God for his affliction.

Pride can kill.

C.S. Lewis said,


 "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you."

APPLICATION

The Daily Walk, May 28, 2008 adds to this quote:
--even if that "something" is God! Here's a thought to copy and carry with you through the day: "Pride" always demands that "I" be in the middle, but  there's no place for "I" in "humble." Take it from Job, the quickest remedy for "I" trouble is looking up into the face of the great "I AM."
God is so good to save us from exalting ourselves in pride. We can be thankful for our suffering. We can rejoice in the great "I AM" in the midst of it instead of demanding an explanation from God.

As application, I heartily suggest a reading and study of 2 Corinthians in order to develop a "theology of suffering" for your life!

PRAYER

Lord, there is some truth in Elihu's words. Help us to embrace suffering as You allow it to keep us from exalting ourselves. We want to be free of pride, Lord. Thank You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Job 31 - Job's Final Oath of Innocence

LINK: Job 31  

BACKGROUND

This chapter contains Job's final "oath of innocence." He looks up to God and pleads: 


Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, 
And let God know my integrity. 
(Job 31:6)

It is like a legal defense where he swears to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him, God." He talks of his innocence from the sin of lust (31:1-4), deceit (31:5-8), adultery (31:9-12), harsh treatment of his servants (31:13-15), ignoring the needs of his fellow man (31:16-23; 29-32), worshiping other things besides God (31:24-28), and not stewarding God's land well (31:38-40).  In the end, He asks for judgment if God can prove that he is guilty of any of the above. Then Job rests his case (31:35-37,40). 

I wonder how God will respond.

REFLECTION

Job seems to have a solid case before God, but, honestly, "who is able to stand" before Him (Revelation 6:17)?  The answer to the question of who can stand is: nobody!  


All have sinned and 
fall short of the glory of God.  
(Romans 3:23)

Even Job has sinned.

The prophet Isaiah said:

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, 
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; 
And all of us wither like a leaf, 
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 
(Isaiah 64:6)

With all Job's legal pleading, he does not have a leg to stand on. It is true that Job is innocent of the specific charges leveled against him by his "friends," but he is not sinless. That was reserved for Jesus who died for all men's shortcomings in the righteousness area.  Only His blood can avert the "wrath to come" (Revelation 6:17).  Without it, no one would stand. 

I am writing this post three days after Christmas 2011, but I cannot stop listening to Handel's Messiah. It really is more an Easter oratorio (and was performed at Easter for many years before it became a Christmas Holiday favorite). The verses from the songs playing right now are so appropriate for what I am trying to say:
But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ (laundrymen's) soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. (Malachi 3:2-3) 
There is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10, Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3).  We will discover more when God speaks to Job, but I want you to consider any areas where self-righteousness may have crept into your life. Is there anywhere where you are "defending" yourself before the Lord when it would be better to just confess and repent before the Lord?

APPLICATION

Each new year, I try to have an extended evaluation/prayer time that often leads me into confession and repentance before the Lord.  An application for you might be to schedule one today!

PRAYER

We stand before You, a most Holy God, as sinners in need of a Savior. You gave us Your only begotten Son to bear our sins. We stand before You because of His blood. Thank You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Job 30 - The Bad New Days

LINK: Job 30

BACKGROUND 

Job has just reminisced about the "Good Old Days." In Job 30, he has to face the reality of the "Bad New Days" of the present! He contrasts his past with his present by lamenting that he has . . .

  • No respect (30:1-15 contrasted with 29:7-11) 
  • No blessing (30:16-23 contrasted with 29:2-6) 
  • No help (30:24-25 contrasted with 29:12-17) 
  • No future (30:26-28 contrasted with 29:18-20) 
  • No ministry (30:29-31 contrasted with 29:21-25) 
There is no REFLECTION or APPLICATION today. 

Just keep reading!

PRAYER

Lord, help us, like Jesus, to learn obedience in the things that we suffer (Hebrews 5:8). Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Job 29 - "The Good Old Days"

LINK: Job 29

BACKGROUND

Zophar's should be sharing his "wise" advice for this 3rd cycle, but there is only silence. Job fills the void and speaks like a lawyer giving his closing arguments to a jury. Job 29 is a review of Job's "Good Old Days" when he was blessed by God, his family was all alive, and he enjoyed respect from those in his community.

There is no REFLECTION or APPLICATION today.

PRAYER

Lord, help us to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Lord, we want to know You, and the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your sufferings; being conformed to Your death (Philippians 3:10). We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Job 28 - Seeking the Wisdom of God

LINK: Job 28

BACKGROUND

This is Job's soliloquy on God's wisdom that contrasts greatly with the wisdom from Job's three comforters!

I hope you let the poetry just wash over you in this chapter. It is beautiful. The first 11 verses have a definite structure to them:
a. Getting valuable metals from the earth (Job 28:1-2)
    b. Going underground (v. 3) 
          c. Remoteness of the mines (unseen by people, v. 4) 
a. Getting valuable metals and gems from the earth (vv. 5-6) 
          c. Remoteness of the mines (unseen by birds and animals, vv.7-8) 
     b. Going underground (v. 9) 
a. Getting valuable metals from the earth (vv. 10-11). 
(Clark, David J., "In Search for Wisdom: Notes on Job 28," The Bible Translator 33. October 1982:401-405)
Compare these verses with Proverbs 3:13-15; 8:11; 16:16.

Job brings out that even though man can mine metals and gems with certain techniques, he cannot find wisdom (which is of far greater worth than precious metals or gems). Man cannot buy wisdom like he can buy other precious metals and jewels.

Job asserts that the only One who knows wisdom is God. Again, we see another interesting structure in the poetry:
a. Inaccessibility of wisdom (vv. 12-14) 
     b. Wisdom's value beyond [gold, silver] jewels (vv. 15-19) 
a. Inaccessibility of wisdom (vv. 20-22)
     b. Wisdom's value known by God (vv. 23-27)
So, if wisdom is inaccessible and cannot be bought, how can man find it? It is summed up in the final verse of the chapter:


And to man He said, 
"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding."

REFLECTION

Job's three friends had knowledge, but they lacked wisdom. Charles Spurgeon said:
"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as the knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”  
(Wiersbe, W. W. [1996, c1991]. Be patient. An Old Testament study. [Job 28:1]. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
How can we find that wisdom? 

By fearing the Lord.

How do we learn to fear (reverence) the Lord?


By knowing Him more deeply.

How do we know Him more deeply?


By digging DEEP in the Word of God 
and obeying what it says!

Psalm 119:38 says,


Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

Warren Wiersbe continues:
If you want real treasure, you must dig deep . . . The Word of God is like a deep mine, filled with precious treasures; but the believer must put forth effort to discover its riches. It takes careful reading and study, prayer, meditation, and obedience to mine the treasures of the Word of God; and the Holy Spirit of God is willing to assist us. Why are we so negligent when this great wealth lies so near at hand?
Wisdom is found in humbling ourselves before God and seeking Him through His Word and obeying His voice as He speaks to us through it. Wisdom and understanding involve evaluating our circumstances in light of God's perspective (found in His Word) and walking down God's path and not our own.

Who would want to toss away so great a treasure?

APPLICATION

Hopefully you are growing in wisdom as you mine God's Word here in the Bible Book Club and apply what you are learning to your everyday situations in life, but we can always grow more! Are there any areas of your life that you are not giving over to God to guide you down the wise path? Humbly come to Him and ask Him for wisdom and a heart to obey.

PRAYER

Lord, make us miners of Your Word so that we might fear You. When we find nuggets of precious truth, help us not to toss them aside but to see them as valuable. We want to be people who look intently at Your perfect law and become not just hearers of the Word but doers too (James 1:22). Guide us by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Job 27 - Job Curses His Enemies

LINK: Job 27

BACKGROUND

Job continues with his response to Bildad by reaffirming his innocence, "I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go" (27:6). He claims that the Almighty has denied him justice and made him taste bitterness (27:2).

Job 27:7-23 includes a description of the fate of the wicked. Job never denies that the wicked are ultimately punished (24:18-24), but he does deny that they are punished immediately as Zophar had claimed in 20:5; 21:7.

In the East, it was not enough to just claim your innocence; you also were to call down the wrath of God on those who accused you of guilt. It is like the imprecatory psalms we have learned about earlier in the Bible Book Club (Psalms 58, 69). As believers in Jesus, it sounds so cruel to call down the wrath of God because Jesus taught that we should forgive our enemies (Matthew 5:38-48), but we need to keep in mind that this book was written even before the Law was given to Moses. According to Warren Wiersbe in Be Patient: A Commentary on Job, "We must not expect him to manifest the kind of spirit that was seen in Jesus."

REFLECTION

Job may not have been expected to manifest the spirit of Jesus, but as followers of Him, we are!

In Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever
slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
May we follow Jesus' example!

APPLICATION

Are you persecuted by modern day "enemies"? Look at the example of Jesus, and pray for them today.

PRAYER

In light of what Jesus has taught us, please help us to pray for those who persecute us and to love our enemies so that they might be loved into Your Kingdom. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Job 25 & 26 - Cycle #3 with Bildad

LINK: Job 25 & 26

BACKGROUND

This is Bildad's last turn at convincing Job he needs to give up on his effort to try to appear before God in "court." Again, he does speak some truth about God. Dominion and awe belong to Him, He rules over the angels, His light goes everywhere, etc. It is also true that man cannot be righteous before a holy God, but Bildad was seeking to humiliate Job into admitting sin he did not commit. He is speaking in generalizations again, and he offers no comfort to Job in his specific situation.

Job's rebuke to Bildad is straightforward, "You are no help to me!" Then he speaks of the greatness of God in nature.

REFLECTION


To whom have you uttered words? 
And whose spirit was expressed through you? 
(Job 26:4)

It has been firmly established that Job's friends were terrible comforters. They were not helping Job in his powerless situation and feeble condition. Instead they were trying to get off their "theological points" about God and the wickedness of man. In Job 26:4, he speaks to the fact that they were not paying attention to him in their monologues and were certainly not listening to God's voice so that His words could be expressed through them. That is a challenging thought for all of us! We need to hear God's voice because He knows what the recipient needs to hear. We need to speak by the Spirit and not by the flesh!


Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand? 
(Job 26:14)

Malaysia has AMAZING thunder and lightning storms. I have never seen anything like them here in the States. I used to sit upstairs in the darkness of our master bedroom and watch the show on many sultry Malaysian nights. I could not help but marvel at the flashes of light followed by high decibel claps of thunder. I would praise God and realize that this amazing thunder storm was only the "fringe of His ways" and a "faint word" of Him! He is so much bigger than anything we have ever even experienced in all of nature. What a marvelous thing to ponder!

APPLICATION

Cultivate a listening heart to God and give counsel and advice that is led by Him rather than driven by your own 'puffed-up' knowledge. He knows the needs of the hurting people around you, and you can trust Him to speak through you if you let go and move yourself out of the way. Also, comforting is about dialogue rather than monologue. Listen to people before you speak.

Realize God's power today. Open your eyes and look at amazing things in nature and realize that it is just a "fringe of His ways." Amazing!

PRAYER

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. Amen (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Job 23 & 24 - The Puzzle of Life

LINK: Job 23 & 24

BACKGROUND

As I mentioned yesterday, Job does not respond to the accusations of Eliphaz. His complaint is with God, and he voiced it. He speaks of his bitterness for the fourth time (3:20; 7:11; 10:1). He wants to know why God was hiding from him (23:1-12). He wants to present his case to the Judge and be acquitted! Again, Job declares that when God has tried him, he would come forth like gold. I wonder if that "gold" is in relation to Eliphaz's exhortation for Job to place his gold in the dust so that the Almighty would be his gold (22:24-25)? He concludes Job 23 with a declaration of God's sovereignty.

In Job 24, he focuses on the injustices that God allows in the country (24:1-11) and city (24:12-17). He closes his complaints with a denunciation of the wicked (24:18-25). Judge Job has come on the scene!

REFLECTION/APPLICATION  
Hide-and-seek is an entertaining children's game, where the object is to find someone who is trying to evade you. 
Hide-and-seek in the spiritual realm is neither entertaining nor enjoyable. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. The question, "Where are you, God?" is as old as the days of Job. 
Job 23:8-12 contains a striking mixture of doubt and trust. Job had kept God's ways, obeyed God's commands, and even "treasured the words of [God's] mouth more than [his] daily bread" (23:12). And yet, wherever Job turned in the midst of his crisis -- "east . . . west . . . north . .  . south" (23:8-9) -- God seemingly could not be found. 
Although Job could not put the pieces of the puzzle together, he realized that God could. And that was the key, for God wanted his unquestioning confidence. Trust, not knowledge, was the issue. 
A jigsaw puzzle makes a great family-fun project after dinner. If you don't have one around the house already, buy one on the way home from work. And as you work together to make the pieces fit, share with your family a lesson from Job's life about what to do when the pieces of life don't seem to fit.
(The Daily Walk, May 24/25 2008)
This is a great application, but I really dislike puzzles! Wonder what that says about my ability to figure out the puzzles of life! But I do like Spider Solitaire which involves figuring out mysteries! Since I lived in Malaysia in 1998, I will often put on praise music and play Spider Solitaire as I work through the perplexing mysteries of life. God always meets me in those times. 

PRAYER

Lord, You hold all the cards and the pieces of the puzzle. You know our beginning and our end and know how to fit everything together in Your time and in Your way. Help us to trust in Your sovereign purposes. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Job 22 - Eliphaz's Third Cycle of Accusations

LINK: Job 22

BACKGROUND 

We are back to Eliphaz again. You might remember that Eliphaz was more aggressive in his confrontation in the second cycle than the first (Job 15), and he is even more pointed and persistent, even verbally abusive, in this third cycle by proclaiming, "Is not your wickedness great?" (22:5). Eliphaz still cannot fathom that an innocent man would ever suffer. He even accuses Job of several evils without proof that Job has even committed them (22:6-9). Job will answer to these false accusations in Job 31:16,19-22. Eliphaz also twists Job statement that God does know all and judges (21:22) by accusing Job of saying the opposite (22:13). Again, Eliphaz pleads with Job for repentance. 

As already mentioned, Job will not reply to these accusations until chapter 31. We will see in Job 23 that he does not argue but ignores Eliphaz's accusations completely.

REFLECTION 

False accusations are so stinging. I used to hear them when I was part of a fellowship that chewed me up and spit me out on a regular basis. It was horrible! I hate to be falsely accused!  I got to the point where I was afraid to say anything for fear it would be twisted around.  I can relate with Job as Eliphaz falsely accused and twisted Job's words.

Job did not argue with his friends. He ignored them. That was hard for me to learn to do because I am a truth-teller, but I had to as the accusations got more and more ridiculous and even the elders of my fellowship were the people spreading the false accusations! I realized the truth of the old saying that "A lie goes all the way around the world before the truth ever gets its shoes on." People are more drawn to falsehood and do not usually question it.  My friend Jamie says, "It takes no faith to listen to a lie, but it takes faith to listen to the truth." 

I have learned I cannot put out the fires of falsehood, and they are there to trip you up and keep you from moving forward. Now, I just walk away from the muck and mire and move on, knowing God knows the truth. I also do not believe everything I hear about others, and I choose not to be around people who are speaking about others in the first place!  Thankfully, my current fellowship does not do that!

APPLICATION 

It is hard to walk away from false accusations, but it is the best possible course of action. The truth will be known eventually. The only person who really matters is God.  Walk away and pray!

PRAYER

Lord, help us to walk away. I pray this in Jesus' power and name. Amen. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Job 21 - Job's Rebuttal to Zophar

LINK: Job 21

BACKGROUND

Job refutes Zophar's argument that the wicked only enjoy life for a brief time by saying that this cannot be right because some live on into old age with abundant prosperity without ever honoring God. Justice is not always for this life on earth. Sometimes, the wicked prosper and the godly do not!

Job refutes Bildad's claim that the "lamp of the wicked is snuffed out" (18:5) by asserting that often they are not snuffed out! God allows them to live on in prosperity and good health while He may allow another man to experience tremendous hardship and sickness. Wealth and health are not always an indicator of a person's character!

Job concludes this chapter by calling the consoling of his three friends "full of falsehood" and "nonsense." The Hebrew word for nonsense, also found in Ecclesiastes 1:2, is hebel. It means "empty, futile, useless, no meaning." 

No REFLECTION or APPLICATION today.

PRAYER

Lord, help us to have a proper view of You in both prosperity or poverty. You are good, and we desire to live holy lives before You regardless of where we are situated on the scale. Draw us close to You and help us to live ABOVE our circumstances, not UNDER them. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Job 20 - Zophar Slams Job Again

LINK: Job 20

BACKGROUND

This is Zophar's second round of rebuke. Did I say rebuke? Zophar is providing "comfort," and Job is the one who is giving rebuke; at least according to Zophar (20:3). Zophar is a pathetic comforter. He pontificates upon the fate God allots to the wicked (20:29), and he assumes that Job's hardships prove he is wicked. Sadly, he still uses generalizations that do not apply to Job's unique situation.

REFLECTION

One of the original Bible Book Club members and I met and talked about what we were learning from the book of Job. She brought up something really important: some of the things that the comforters say are true even though they do not apply to Job's situation. What do you do with that?

Much of what the comforters say is accurate, biblical truth. In fact, Paul even quotes Eliphaz from Job 5:13 in 1 Corinthians 3:19. This is the only time Job is quoted in the New Testament.

In this chapter, Zophar is wrong for rebuking Job, but he is correct in 20:6, 7 when he speaks of the end of the wicked and godless:
Though his pride reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, "Where is he?"
This is a true statement regarding their final end. There may be temporary gain, but God's justice will prevail in the end.

We cannot always assume that what the comforters say is not truth. It is just not truth for Job's situation! What a cautionary tale for our own lives to not thump people over the head with the Bible before listening to their heart first!

APPLICATION

We can be "puffed up" with the knowledge of the truth, but we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in when we should apply that truth. Pray that God will help you to be sensitive and not jump to the wrong conclusions about people.

PRAYER
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Lord, thank You for teaching us everyday through Your Word. Help us to handle Your truth in a way that brings glory to You and not dishonor by the way we mishandle it. Keep us sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings every minute of every day. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Job 18 & 19 - "I know that My Redeemer Lives"

LINK: Job 18 & 19

BACKGROUND


Bildad the Shuhite starts his second round of "comforting" Job by telling him that the "light of the wicked goes out" (18:5). By saying this, he was again implying that Job was wicked, and this was why he was suffering. It must have especially hurt Job to have Bildad say that the wicked "has no offspring or posterity among his people, nor any survivor where he sojourned" because Job had just lost all his sons and daughters! Such a sensitive friend (NOT!).


Maybe this last little jab about his family did hurt Job because he said, "How long will you crush me with words" (19:2)? He continued to defend his innocence and shouts for help, but he claims he gets no justice and that God is against him and has "uprooted [his] hope like a tree" (19:10). He claims that everyone else is against him and that even his "breath is offensive to [his] wife" (19:17 - I must admit. That one made me laugh out loud today.). He cries out for pity, but his friends gave him none.


Even though Job says that God has uprooted his hope, he still expresses hope in the final crescendo of Job 19:



As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,  
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. 
Even after my skin is destroyed, 
Yet from my flesh I shall see God. (19:25, 26)

REFLECTION

The Hebrew word for "Redeemer is go'el and was 

"a person who defended or avenged the cause of another, or who provided protection or legal aid for a close relative who could not do so for himself" (Bible Knowledge Commentary). We have heard about this most famously in the Book of Ruth where Boaz, as Ruth's kinsman redeemer, rescued Ruth in the new land by marrying her.

In the midst of the darkness of Job 19, the words of hope echoed in verses 25-26 inspire me to walk by faith even in my darkest times. Job made a hopeful affirmation of faith in the midst of a garbage dump, ostracized from family and friends, and in intense pain and suffering. He shouted: "I know that my Redeemer lives!" to his worthless friends and all those around him. He knew that in the end God would stand upon the earth and testify that Job was innocent. In addition, after he was dead, he would see God.


The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


We know that our kinsman redeemer is Jesus Christ. He died for our sins and returned to heaven as our Advocate (Job 16:9) and He will, one day, stand upon the earth exercising true righteous judgment as our Kinsman Redeemer. Satan may kill, steal and destroy, just as he did to Job and his family, but Jesus Christ is the Vindicator and Living One who will give, to all who know Him, life (John 5:21, 26).


APPLICATION/PRAYER


Pray through Job 19:25, 26.