Sunday, June 30, 2013

You've Got a Friend!

Read Job 16.

Job was worn out (v.7).  He believed the hand of God came against him because the LORD "hated me" (v.9).  And, he felt everyone around him was against him.

As he told it, everything was fine until God "broke me apart" and "set me up as his target" (v.12).

In verse 18, Job looked around the earth and asked for vindication.  He did not want his cries to go with being resolved.  Next, he looked to heaven.  Since there were no friends to plead his case on earth, he longed for a friend in heaven who would advocate for him with God.

Several insights for today.
1. God is not mad at us.
We are His creation; we belong to Him.  "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16)

2. God wants a relationship with us.
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

3. We do have a Friend in heaven.
"...we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ..." (1 John 2:1)
"...he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

You've got a Friend.  Just call out His name and you know wherever you are, He'll come.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can a person be pure before God?

Read Job 15.

This begins the second of three rounds of speeches as these men interact.  Last time, Eliphaz began by complimenting Job before strongly advising him.  In this exchange he skipped the courtesies and accused Job of being a harden sinner, disrespectful to his elders, and defiant toward God.

Then, Eliphaz falsely detailed how the sufferings of Job were exactly what happens to all those who defy God.  The wicked will come to ruin and poverty.

He did ask a key question.  "What is man, that he can be pure?" (v.14)  God is holy and cannot tolerate sin.  Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

So, how can an unholy human being ever have a relationship with a holy God?  The answer is in the next verse: "and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24)

Such right standing with God cannot be earned.  It is a free gift.  It is not the result of what we can do, but solely upon what Christ has already done for us.  Our sin was paid in full on the cross.

Forgiven, we are pure before the LORD.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Believer's Hope and Home

Read Job 14.

Life is short.  Our days here on earth are numbered and determined by a sovereign and loving God.

Then, in his suffering, Job wonders when will it all end?  And, where is this going?

Further, Job observed that a tree may be cut down, yet with a little water, the stump can sprout life again.  But what about human life?  "If a man dies, shall he live again?" (v.14)

Life is not about reaching our goals but fulfilling God's purposes.  We are "the work of your hands" (v.15).  Job concluded that over time life simply wears down a person's body and hope until they die.

Futile sounding?  Yes...if all of one's hope is wrapped up with things here on earth.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19)

The hope and home of the believer is not in this life, but in the one that is to come.  Indeed, Paul was encouraged and referred to it as going home!  "Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him." (2 Corinthians 5:8-9)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Godly Confidence comes from a Clear Conscience

Read Job 13.

By this point, Job was already weary of debating with these so-called friends.  They proved to be of no help.  Indeed, Job compared them to "worthless physicians".  Or, as Dr. Roy Zuck wrote, they were "worthless medical doctors with no prescription to alleviate his pain" (Bible Knowledge Commentary).  He wanted them to be quiet and just listen to him.

Again, he expressed his greater desire to argue his case directly with God.  Job understood fully the potential consequences of this request.  It had already been stated that no human being is a match for an all-powerful, sovereign God.  It could cost him his life (verse 15).

His confidence remained in the fact that he had done nothing wrong to justify this suffering.  In essence, Job continued to ask what every hurting person asks, "Why? What did I do wrong?  What did I do to deserve this?"  He even boldly asked that his sins be enumerated.

In verse 26, Job mentioned the sins of his youth and questioning the value of bringing that up against him.  God, of course, will not do that.

We who know Jesus and have experienced His forgiveness never have to worry about God dredging up the sins of our past.  Such plaguing thoughts do not come from Him.  Often the Evil One will remind us those things to impose false guilt and seek to destroy our confidence.  Our memories of the past should quickly shift to the grace extended to us by faith in Jesus.  To be forgiven by God means our record is clean with Him.

"'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why is it that not everyone worships God?

Read Job 12.

To Zophar's accusations, Job responded with three chapters of defense.  In the banter regarding wisdom and endeavoring to search out the meaning of this real life situation, Job first expounded on the true source of wisdom, all understanding, and ultimate control.

God's power and wisdom are immediately knowable to everyone.

1. All of humanity should know the LORD.
Job did not possess a Bible.  He had no theological training.  So, how could he have such understanding about God?
"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them."
(Romans 1:19)

How has God shown Himself to everyone?

2. All of nature could tell us.  vv.7-10
Job offered that if the beasts, birds, plants and fish could talk they would declare God's wisdom and power.
"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse."
(Romans 1:20)

Then, why is it that not everyone worships Him?

3. All of life experience should tell us.  vv.11-12
Daily God is at work shaping our lives for His purposes.  Believers trust Him and look for His faithfulness.  Others reject God's plan and go their own way to their detriment.
"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools..."
(Romans 1:21-22)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
(Proverbs 1:7)

Monday, June 17, 2013

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Thank you so much for your faithful reading of this blog.  Originally, I began writing chapter by chapter through the Bible as a legacy for my family.  Now, it is being read and enjoyed world-wide.  I believe God intends to use this material for a greater purpose.

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By God's Grace we do not receive what we Deserve

Read Job 11.

Next, Zophar took a turn to judge and correct Job.  He accused job of spouting a lot of meaningless talk, even referring to him as stupid (v.12).  Further, he stated that it was too bad that God did not speak up so they could hear the real story.  It was the same erroneous thinking that Job's experiences were the result of some personal sin.

However, Zophar's statements about God are full of truth.

1. God is merciful.
"Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt." v.6
Aren't we all blessed by the fact that God's forgiveness does not render to us what we so rightfully deserve?

2. God's knowledge is limitless and immeasurable. vv.7-12
Indeed, He does know every detail about our lives-what we have thought, said, and done.

3. God forgiveness is waiting for those who will respond to His grace.
If a person will turn from their sin and turn to God, they will experience a fresh start in life. vv.13-20

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trusting God's heart is a Choice

Read Job 9-10.

He knew he had done nothing to bring these miseries on himself, but Job also knew that no one is totally guiltless before a perfect and holy God.

In a marvelous series of statements, Job described God's absolute sovereignty.
He is all-powerful.
God can remove mountains, cause earthquakes, control the movements of the sun and stars. (9:5-6)
He created all things.
-God made the constellations. (9:8)
He is accountable to no one.
"Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?'" (9:12)

Job no longer liked his life and wished that it would just end.  Again, Job asked "why?"

When our treasured plans do not work out, when our losses are too great to bear, we have choices of how to respond.  Our choices will be reflected in our attitudes, speech and behavior.  Note how Job processed his choices.
1. To be angry with God.
While this is a natural reaction by a hurting person, Job understood the futility of that.  A mere human is no match for the Sovereign God.
"who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?" (9:4)

2. To argue with God.
Several times Job verbalized his desire to plead his case, as in a court of law or with someone to arbitrate between him and God.  Yet, he again acknowledged that the God of heaven is not answerable to him.
"For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together.  There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both." (9:32-33)

It is the third choice that is the struggle for Job and all the rest of us.  Can we trust that God has a plan and a purpose behind allowing our suffering?  Can we trust that God is at work behind the scenes, even when we cannot see it?

"You clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.  You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.  Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose." (10:11-13)

When you cannot see His hand, trust His heart.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Evaluating life versus Health, Wealth and Prosperity

Read Job 8.

Some comforter Bildad turned out to be!
1. He called Job a wind bag. (v.1)
2. He said Job's children had it coming to them due to sin. (v.4)
3. He urged Job to repent and God would restore his fortunes. (vv.5-6)
4. He concluded that where there is smoke, there is fire. (vv.11-12)
5. He accused Job of forgetting God. (v.13)

Bildad's theology was not wrong in itself, but his applications were incorrect.  He judged Job upon a false premise that did not allow for the fact that Job had done nothing wrong.  Bildad's thinking was that Job's suffering was the result of sin in his life.  And, if Job was truly living a godly life, then he would experience health, wealth, position and power.  This is simply not true and is totally false to anyone who knows their Bible.

On earth, Jesus possessed no wealth.  Paul experienced a physical problem that never went away.  The Psalmist observed that the wicked around him prospered.  Are all world leaders godly people?  It is easy to destroy Bildad's argument, yet so many continue to be sucked into that thinking.

Evaluating life only in temporal terms is to miss the very essence of truly knowing the God of heaven.  Like The Great Gatsby, it leads to living in a false and fantasized hope. It is a failure to deal with reality.  The results include a self-centered and rebellious life.  "It is all about me and what I can get from God."

What are the evidences of a godly life?
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (Galatians 5:22-23)  These are the qualities for evaluation and transcend any and all temporal issues a believer may be experiencing.  It is the work of God in a life and cannot be self-imposed by wishful thinking.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Source of a never ending Hope

Read Job 6-7.

Bewildered in trying understand what God was doing and frustrated by his three visitors, Job struggled to maintain any hope of things getting better.
!. He asked for justice.
"Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances!" (6:2)
2. His friends were of no help.
"For you have now become nothing; you see my calamity and are afraid." (6:21)
3. He maintains his innocence.
"How forceful are upright words!  But what does reproof from you reprove?" (6:25)
4. He could not sleep.
"When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?'  But the night is long, and I am full of tossing til the dawn." (7:4)
5. He would not be quiet about his pain.
"Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul." (7:11)
6. He repeatedly spoke of the brevity of life.
7. Three times he again asked why. ((7:20-21)

Someone once commented that the human body may survive weeks without food, a week without water, but  not a single day without hope.  Everyone needs a basis for hope that transcends this life. Paul wrote, "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19)  Any source of hope on earth will eventually become a disappointment.

When Jeremiah's world was crashing down around him and he faced losing everything, he wrote:
"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'" (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sometimes being Slow is a Good Thing

Read Job 4-5.

For a week, Job's three friends have said nothing.  But once Job broke the silence, they felt free to speak.  The conversation between these four runs all the way through chapter 37.

It is immediately obvious that Job's friends never took the 50 hours of training in Stephen Ministry.  While along the way the men speak nuggets of truth, their intent was most often misguided correction.  They wrongfully assumed that bad things happen to bad people.  Therefore, Job with all his outward signs of godliness must have some awful hidden sin that caused this calamity.

Eliphaz accused Job of being impatient and reaping what he sowed.  His advice: "As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number." (5:8-9)  And, "Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore, despise not the discipline of the Almighty." (5:17)

His theology is sound.  It is the application that is amiss.  He called upon Job to repent of sin, thinking that these tragedies were punishments from God.  Such was not the case.  This was a test of Job's faith, not a punishment.  The instigator was Satan, not God.

Unless there is some evidence of violation of God's word, we must always be careful and slow in our judgments.  Blatant disobedience needs swift correction.  But a tragedy is not always the result of personal sin.  Also, it impossible to know what God is doing or how He will chose to use this painful experience in the future.

Hurting people need the comfort and encouragement of a friend.
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." (James 1:19)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What do you say to a hurting friend?

Read Job 3.

Job's faith was strong, but the pain still hurt.  He wondered what happened.  Five times in this chapter he used the word "why".  In summary:
-"I wish I had never been born."
-"I wish I had been born dead."
-"I wish I could die now."

How could a man of such faith say these things?
He was confused.  He did everything right and all of this stuff has happened to him.  He was physically tired, emotionally drained, and feeling trapped or "hedged in".  Several times he mentioned that at least death would bring rest, an end to trouble, and freedom.

When his three friends came, they were so appalled by what they saw they sat in silence for a full week.  At least they showed up to be with him in his grief.

What should a person say and/or do for a hurting friend?
Many churches have trained people in Stephen Ministry.  Their response to "be there" is as an act of love and provides good insights for all of us.
1. Caring.
A friend cares enough for the hurting to be present with them.
2. Listening.
A friend listens.  Hurting people need to get it all out, to verbalize their feelings and questions, even if their assessment is not quite accurate.
3. Praying.
A friend intercedes.  They need someone who can pray for them and with them.
4. Supporting.
A friend discovers what emotional and practical needs there are and endeavors to meet them.
5. Encouraging.
A friend gives comfort and hope.  It is simply passing on the love, care and comfort "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" has given to us.  "...who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

God is Good, no matter what

Read Job 2.

Satan, "the accuser", stated that the only reason Job worshiped God was due to God's many blessings.  In other words, Job only obeyed God for what he could get from him.   Remove the blessing and Job would no longer worship the LORD.  But Job's faith was not in his temporal possessions but in the eternal, unchanging One who created him.  He held fast to his "integrity" (v.3).  Job practiced what he preached.

When that did not work, Satan approached God again to accuse Job.  Test number two extended to Job's physical health and pain.  Yet, Job held on to what he believed about God.  His analysis of the situation is not natural.  It is natural to question God's goodness when things go awry.  It takes some spiritual maturity to see beyond the circumstances to trust the LORD no matter what.

"'Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive (disaster)?'  In all this Job did not sin with his lips." (v.10)

It begs the question, if there were no earthly benefits and we suffered the loss of everything, would we still "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind"?

Job knew and was committed, not to the good things God does, but in the goodness of God's character.  Good is who God is.

Psalm 86:5-"For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you."

Psalm 100:5-"For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."

Psalm 106:1-"Praise the LORD!  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for his is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Perspective on Personal Pain

Read Job 1.

There is a difference between punishment and a test .  Punishment is the penalty for doing something wrong.  A test is an opportunity to prove one can do something right.  Sometimes, a test of faith may feel like punishment.  This is often true when a loss is involved.

The book of Job is about a test.  Job did not do anything wrong.  Just the opposite was true of him.  He lived a "blameless and upright" life.  He "feared God and turned away from evil."  Yet, he experienced great pain and the loss of everything.  Though allowed by God, the losses were not "acts of God".

This chapter provides a behind the scenes look at the spiritual war that takes place continually between Satan and God.  Revelation 12:10 calls him "the accuser" as day and night he comes before the God of heaven and makes accusations against believers.  The Apostle Peter warned of this very thing when he wrote, "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

But then Peter continued, "Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world."  The unbeliever has no faith to resist the plans of the devil.  The believer in Jesus does.

Did this test hurt Job?  Yes.  Deeply.  Pain and loss do not define our values.  Instead, they reveal the values we hold most dear.

How could Job endure such suffering and pass this test?
He acknowledged in verse 21 that the measure of life is not the things one accumulates.  Indeed, these are temporal blessings from God, at best.  They can be taken away and all will be left behind at death.  The greater possession then is to live with an understanding of and a commitment to eternal values.

Job knew what was of lasting importance.  When this excruciating test came, his values never wavered.  "In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong."  God's ultimate plan for his life was worthy of his trust.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

God's Greatness on Display

Read Esther 9-10.

When the time came, instead to the Jews being annihilated, "the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.  It proved to be a reverse victory all around.
-The orphan of slave parents became queen of the Persian Empire.
-The man who was destined for the gallows became a powerful leader, second only to the king.
-Those who were hated gained honor throughout the empire.

To this day, devout Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim in mid-March.  The word "purim" refers to the lots that were rolled like dice to determine which day the Jews would be attacked.  It is a time to send gifts to friends and assistance to the poor.  A gathering includes a reading of the book of Esther.  When Haman's name is mentioned in the reading there may be a strong audience reaction of booing or yelling, "Let his name be accursed."  This followed by cheers for Esther and Mordecai.

Though the name of God is never mentioned in the book, dependence upon Him and the power of God is unmistakable.  He is always at work in the lives of those who trust Him.


"...that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe."
(Ephesians 1:18-19)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Reason for Gladness and Joy

Read Esther 8.

Taking care of Haman was only a small part of the problem.  The king had issued a royal decree that would have annihilated all the Jews in the empire.  Once announced, the law of the Medes and Persian could not be revoked.

To countermand the decree, Ahasuerus allowed Queen Esther and Mordecai, now the king's right hand man,   full authority to write a new law.  The Jews could organize and defend themselves.  The slaughter was averted.  This resulted in fear of the Jews throughout the empire.  Some, having witnessed the power of God, joined the Jews in their faith.    For the Jews, it meant a time of "gladness and joy and honor."  So much so, they feasted and made it a holiday.

Proverbs 28:12-"When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, people hide themselves."

Since the time God chose Abraham and his descendants, the national faith of the Jews has been up and down.  But the LORD's unconditional covenant with them has not changed.

"Thus says the LORD; 'If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.'" (Jeremiah 31:37)

To the believer in Jesus, we have full assurance of His commitment and care for us.  It should bring us daily gladness and joy.
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Power of Preparation

Read Esther 7.

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  Proverbs 16:18

The moment of Queen Esther's appeal to the king had arrived.  But the impact of her request was based upon all the preparation.

1.  She prepared personally.
Her character was unquestioned.

2. She prepared physically.
Esther always looked her best for her husband.

3. She prepared spiritually.
For three days she and the others affected had been fasting and praying.

4. She prepared socially.
As a good hostess, it was a pleasure to have a meal and spend time at her home.  Someone once said, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."  Cooking good food is always an attraction.

5. She prepared emotionally.
It was self-discipline that kept her from showing her emotions to soon.  She did not cry.  She did not blurt out her request.  She waited for the moment.

6.. She prepared verbally.
When the moment arrived knew what she was going to say and how to say it.

She stated the bottom-line first.
She explained her willingness to accept hardship.
She revealed the personal consequences of his decision.

Her request was granted.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

He is an on-time God

Read Esther 6.

The irony is incredible.  No movie script writer will ever be able to top this scene.

Multiple things were taking place at the same time.  God alone can do this.
1. God was preparing the king's heart for what Esther would request later that day.
The timing and sequence of events is far beyond any coincidence.  That night he could not sleep.  He called for reading of the empire's historical records.  The readers just happened to read how Mordecai saved the king's life.  The king asked what had been done to honor Mordecai.

2. God was preparing Haman for his downfall.
One would be hard pressed to find a greater example of sinful pride in all the Bible.  He just happened to be in the court that morning at the same time the king asked about honoring Mordecai.  His ego unleashed all of his vanity in answering the king's question.  Then, the irony.  King Ahasuerus ordered him to be a servant to  Mordecai that day and at the very same time Haman was having a gallows built upon which to hang this man.

3. God was preparing Mordecai for his promotion.
He did a good deed and was never thanked.  Indeed, he was forgotten by others but not by God.  God waited until He could use that information for a much greater purpose.  Here was a Jew, a captured slave of the empire, being paraded through the streets wearing the king's garb, led by the man who hated him.

God is at work even when we cannot see what He is doing.
God will deal with the unrepentant sinner sooner or later.
God sees our circumstances and knows how to use them at the right time to unfold His plan and to glorify Himself.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Waiting is hard Work

Read Esther 5.

Esther listened.  She fasted and prayed.  She waited.

Waiting is hard.  We tend to either not want to wait so we can take immediate action or to be waiting in dread, postponing the moment as long as we can.  Waiting on God gives us an opportunity to reflect, to calm our emotions, and to effectively prepare.  Waiting also gives God opportunity to work in the other person's heart.

When the time came, Queen Esther dressed to look her best.  She had presented herself to the king before and won his heart.  She knew what he liked.  When she arrived, she did not barge in but simply stood in a place where he would see her.  It worked.  The king welcomed her and offered anything she wanted even before he heard the request.

It would have been so tempting to blurt out an emotional plea for her life and that of all the Jews.  But the request was filled with great danger and instability.  Instead, she waited and worked.  Esther carefully unfolded a step-by-step plan to build the relationship, to build the curiosity, and to wait for the right timing.  After all, God was working on Haman as well.

Haman's pride-filled heart and hatred of the Jews could not wait for the date of the king's decree.  He decided to hang Mordecai the next day.  Now, the stage was set.  Everything and everyone was ready.

Esther surely had heard Psalm 37:34-"Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off."

As we shall see the wait was worth it.

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14)