Job 31-32 (NLT)

Discover His heart: His wisdom is for young and old alike – ours for the asking

Our eyes are inundated with stimulating and suggestive sights just about everywhere we go, whether in public places, on the television or on our computers. We may be minding our own business, not seeking out anything questionable yet be assaulted dead on. We need to understand that we control how we respond to these visual encounters. I appreciate the wisdom of author Steve Arterburn who cautions men on this subject in his book, “Every Man’s Battle,” and encourages the bounce response.

Arterburn suggests that when the eyes encounter those things that are stimulating and suggestive, quickly bounce the eyes to something else rather than linger. In his day, Job wasn’t privileged nor was he challenged by the media we have at our disposal, but evidently he still was tested in this area and had his own method of dealing with it.

In Chapter 31, Job made his last appeal to the jury of friends about his innocence.  Although his defense had sounded arrogant at times, Job was a good man who loved God. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (31:1) Sin first entered the garden when Eve saw the fruit, lingered on it, and then considered it. With all that is thrown in our view today, oh that we will make a covenant with our eyes like Job did, men and women alike.

Job pleaded innocent to sins against God, to sins against other people and to sins against himself – but no one believed him. Job’s friends felt that all suffering was the punishment for sin. They deducted either God was wrong, or Job was lying, and God is never in error. The three tormentors gave up and finally shut their mouths…ahhhh.

Enter the smart young voyeur into this conversation, Elihu, the moderator in this trial.  While trying to find a solution to this ongoing dispute, Elihu had plenty of insults to pass around, first to the three friends that he thought unwise. Many things Elihu spoke were true, for example, “There is a spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent.”(32:8) All wisdom comes from God and is available to all, but it’s usually our experiences in life that cause us to draw from that wisdom.

Naturally, older people have more experiences than do young people, and wisdom hopefully follows those experiences. However, I’ve known many young ones with wisdom beyond their years because they have sought the Source of all wisdom. We can also receive the gift of wisdom, supernatural wisdom that has no age boundary, and also the wisdom given freely by God to those who ask for it. (James 1:5) We really have no valid excuse for the foolish things we do at times.

Elihu concluded his speech explaining that he was like a cork ready to pop with all the wisdom he possessed. I would say that only the young could be so confident, and as we read over the next few chapters, we learn that he, too, was incorrect in his counsel to Job. Imagine.

It was wisdom that led Job to make a covenant with his eyes – an agreement, a treaty, a promise, a commitment – not to look with lust on any woman. Wisdom will always lead us to make right choices in life. I remember a little song we sang in Children’s Church when I was young that helped me to understand at a very early age that we control our steps and actions each day. “Be careful little feet where you go…be careful little hands what you do…be careful little eyes what you see…For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see.” Well, we never outgrow that need to be careful, and that is wise.

Moving Forward: I make a covenant with my eyes not to look at any person, place or thing with selfish desire. I seek His wisdom that He offers so freely in all that I think, do and say.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 17-21

Job 29-30 (NLT)

Discover His Heart: He is the source of all blessings as He watches over our lives

I distinctly remember the first time I was bumped up to First Class on an airline flight. As I sat down on the roomy, comfortable seat, I thought I was one of the most blessed people on the planet. With the personal attention, upscale meals and china, I repeat china, coffee cups, I felt that it was definitely where I belonged. It was a long flight, and I felt especially blessed that day to sit so comfortably on my journey.

On my next flight I found myself back in Coach with the regular folk, and unfortunately, now I knew what I was missing. That Coach seat was smaller than ever, the peanuts were…just peanuts. Flying would never be quite the same. (Sigh) In our reading today, a significant part of Job’s misery was remembering what he had enjoyed at one time and realizing that it was now gone.

No doubt Job’s enemy, Satan, was thrilled to hear Job’s account of his past glories in Chapter 29. I would imagine his test of Job included proving that all creation was full of pride just as he was. Job’s recount of his past sounds almost prideful. Better he had reviewed all the blessings God has given him, rather than detailing all he had accomplished himself. In his defense, I am reminded of something a friend said to me when I was struggling with something early in my ministry. She explained that when we live our lives for Him, as time goes on we tend to remember only the beautiful. On this occasion, Job was remembering only the beautiful moments in his life, and the painful events had been forgotten.

Usually, our memories of blessing bring hope for the future, but they did not bring hope to Job. To fall from how he lived and was regarded in Chapter 29 to the degradation and scorn of Chapter 30 explains the depths of his present anguish. Often throughout the book, Job rightfully stated that all goodness comes from God, but occasionally he implied that his former blessings came from his piety and this was why he felt he didn’t deserve his trial.

In Chapter 29:9-10, Job recounted how others viewed him, “The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect.” “I assisted…I helped…I caused…righteousness covered me like a robe…I served.” (vs.12-15) Even in our humblest of circumstances, pride can rear its ugly head, threatening our future dependence on Him. Yes, God blesses our right living with His goodness, but we do well to remember that He is the source of all blessing, and through His mercy and grace He blesses us.

For me, Job’s greatest anguish came when he said, “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look.” (30:20) Of course, we know from Chapter 1 that God was looking at him intently, but to think that God was unconcerned about him was Job’s greatest anguish of all!

Sometimes we may be tempted to feel this same way, but from Job’s story, we know that God is looking at us intently regardless of our circumstances. It is out of our lack that He is able to bring great blessing, and it is out of our lack that we will appreciate and cherish His blessings, never taking credit for them and never taking them for granted. Flying First Class no matter where we’re seated!

Moving Forward: From an old hymn, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below…” (The Doxology) This truth is my heart’s song as I move forward today. I will praise Him! Regardless of my circumstances, I know He is looking at me intently, and His blessings will flow.

Tomorrow@Jeremiah 12-16

Job 27-28 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He fills our hearts with wisdom when we search for Him

Over the past 40 years, we have had an understanding in our home that I am the finder of all things lost. Socks, homework, ketchup, tools, pencils, scissors, tape, ties, shoes, brush, camera, clickers – well, I think I’ve painted an accurate picture. My husband and children alike often have trouble locating the things they need the most, and I’m called to the rescue. I’ve heard it said that nothing is really lost until your mom can’t find it. In truth, even I, the crack detective, find myself occasionally baffled by the location of a pair of scissors.

Fortunately, my husband was able to find me, something for which I am eternally grateful and more important is that he found the Lord and helps many others find Him too. In our reading today, Job was looking for something that all of mankind searches for with great effort, and he gave us a clue where to find it.

@ Job 28
“Food is grown on the earth above, but down below, the earth is melted as by fire. Here the rocks contain precious lapis lazuli, and the dust contains gold.” (5-6) We rarely think about the treasures that lie beneath our gardens, buildings and superhighways, but deep within the earth is an abundance of precious gems and fuels. Even in Job’s day, man had found these hidden treasures through his digging and searching, shining light in the darkness and exploring the farthest reaches of the earth. (3) Without a trusty flashlight and a good supply of batteries, I’m not sure how this worked for them, but clearly, it did.

With all our wonderful discoveries on this earth, however, there is one thing we cannot find here, “But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living.”(12-13) We run to the internet to find answers to some of our dilemmas but discover 150,000 different solutions in response to our searching. Which one is wisdom? Some individuals travel to distant lands and climb high mountains to receive knowledge from an old sage. They believe he must be right because the wisdom was so very difficult to achieve.

Job had it right! “God alone understands the way to wisdom; He knows where it can be found…And this is what He says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”(23,28) So, it seems that when we need wisdom for a difficult situation in our lives, we should surrender first to the Source of all wisdom instead of soliciting answers from those who are only guessing.

We fear the Lord not by cowering in dread of His mighty hand, but by showing reverence and respect in much the same way we reverence and respect others. We hang on His every word and honor all that He does and says. Our search for wisdom will find us on our knees in prayer, digging into His Word and shunning all that is evil and unrighteous. And according to God, this, in and of itself, is wise. Solomon agreed with Job, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” (Proverbs 9:10)

So in our search for wisdom to help us with all of our life issues, if we find Him, we find wisdom. Somewhere through the pages of His Word or through His still small voice and through Holy Spirit guidance, we will find the wisdom we seek. He is utterly faithful!

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful that I don’t need to travel to the top of the world or search for an internet signal to find the wisdom I need in life. It’s all right here in Him.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 7-11

Job 21-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Through our intimacy with God, we know He can be trusted

It does our hearts good to see a few of the rich and famous use their wealth on occasion to help those around the world who are destitute. Just how many huge homes and estates throughout the world does one individual need anyway?  With lifestyles less than exemplary in some cases, many seem to flaunt their wealth in the faces of those who struggle to survive.  It was just a matter of time before Job questioned the abundance of the wicked in light of his dire situation. 

@ Job 21
“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (7) My response to Job is that I don’t know. “They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren…” (8) Safe homes, productive cattle, happy children, and on and on. “And yet they say to God, ‘Go away.  We want no part of you, and your ways.’” (14)  Job seemed to be describing the beautiful people of our day as well. However, Job’s greatest concern was not the wealth of the ungodly, but rather the poverty and heartache of those who served God. 

@ Job 22
Eliphaz, Job’s friend/tormentor, asked some questions of his own, “Can a person do anything to help God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?  Is it any advantage to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?  Is it because you’re so pious that he accuses you and brings judgment against you? No, it’s because of your wickedness! There’s no limit to your sins.” (3-5)  Eliphaz went on to list the many possible sins of Job, but his questions give me pause for thought.

The questions of Eliphaz imply an impersonal God who blesses when we are good and punishes when we are bad.  Certainly, God is not dependent on us, but we know from scripture that He is blessed by our faithfulness to Him and even amazed sometimes by our faith.  God desires an intimate relationship with us.  The thought that Job’s ordeal could be a testing is not in the mix for Eliphaz, but both men missed the point.  Job thought God’s blessing in his life was based solely on his own goodness, and Eliphaz felt the lack of God’s blessing was based on Job’s sin.

When God finally responded to Job, He answered none of his questions, but He directed Job to understand that He was in control of all things.  It wasn’t Job’s concern if evil men appeared to prosper and innocent men suffered.  God would determine man’s destination for eternity, which, by the way, is a very long time.

While Satan thought Job would crumble and curse God through his affliction, God was confident Job would remain faithful. Job’s response that we read last week, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” (19:25) had to have put a smile on the face of the Lord.  Job believed in Him through his trial, but would he trust Him through the process?  Could God’s path for Job be trusted?  It was in this test that Job was on shaky ground.

And this is our test as well in the trials we face from time to time.  We know that our Redeemer lives, but will we trust His path for us and not be tormented by all the questions that come to mind? In yesterday’s Psalm 32, David repented then trusted the Lord to care for him.  Job repented early in his story,  but he was challenged to now put down all his questions and trust God to care for him.  Thankfully, better days were in Job’s future… 

Moving Forward: Who cares about the abundance of those around us, whether they are righteous or not!  The bottom line is I know that my Redeemer lives, and I pray I will trust Him through the challenges I face. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 56-61

Job 19-20 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is our Light and our Redeemer

Whether we’re moving through a mountain of laundry or walking through a difficult situation in life, we live for that moment when we see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the tunnel becomes an illusion, and the light becomes our reality.  Of course, there will be the pessimists who see it another way – The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train, or perhaps the quote that has special meaning for us today, “Politicians are people who, when they see the light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.”  Ugh. However, I choose to side with Job who delivered an optimistic statement of hope in our reading today – he saw the light! 

@ Job 19
“I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me… God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness… His fury burns against me; he counts me as an enemy… My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me.”  And to add insult to injury, “My breath is repulsive to my wife.” (7-17)  Job once again rehearsed his miserable condition, but through his pain in a moment of clarity, he went on to declare, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last.” (25)  Job saw the slight glimmer of light at the end of his agonizing ordeal.

Job was looking for God to be his mediator in Job 9:33, and then his witness in Job 16:19, but now he saw God as his Redeemer, his vindicator, his Savior.  As we read in the Book of Ruth, the redeemer was a relative who paid the debt of those held captive to bring about their freedom, but Job’s family and close friends had deserted him.  His Redeemer would be his God, who, regardless of Job’s miserable circumstance, still lived and would one day stand on the earth.  What a statement of faith!

“And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!  I will see him for myself.  Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.  I am overwhelmed at the thought! (26-27)  In his day with little knowledge of life after death, this was quite a declaration.  David and a few others referred to it in the Old Testament, but Job was the first to answer his own question in Job 14:14, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” Job made it clear that he won’t see God in a vision or dream or represented by someone else, but he would see Him, his Redeemer, with his own eyes.

Through the benefit of time, we can better understand the concept of eternal life and have come to know our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Few have ever experienced all the tragedies of Job, but regardless of what difficulty we may be walking through today, how can we declare anything less than Job’s pronouncement, Job’s light at the end of the tunnel, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives!” 

Moving Forward: Instead of what I see in the present, I look to the future, to my Redeemer, the One who is alive, and to the mighty works He will do on my behalf. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 51-55

Job 17-18 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He put up security for our redemption

I have a friend who is a bail bondsman.  Being the gentleman that he is, he has never gone into great detail about his work, but needless to say, it is not a typical nine to five job.  When a defendant is in jail on criminal charges and desires to be released until trial, a hefty fee or bail is required as a deposit to ensure that the defendant will not skip town.  When the defendant is unable to pay this deposit and family and friends refuse to do so, a bondsman is contacted to pay the bail and serve as a guarantor that the defendant will appear in court.

It’s a risky business and some defendants jump bail, leaving the bondsman holding the debt, and we can understand why he or she tracks down the defendant. After all, the bail has already been paid! Poor Job understood this practice and was looking for a bondsman to free him from his jail of affliction and suffering.  Job was looking for his get out of jail free card. 

@Job 17
“Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.  Who else will put up security for me?” (3, NIV)  Job called on God to act as his guarantor, to pay what was necessary to free him from his miserable situation.  Who else will put up security for me? We certainly know that it wouldn’t be his friends who had already tried and convicted him, case closed.

While God abundantly blessed Job over the next many years, Job’s cry for a bondsman, for the everlasting bondsman, was answered some 2000 years later when Someone paid Job’s bail, not with money but with His very blood, Job’s guarantor. “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time.” (Romans 3:25-26)  Amazing!

This reminds me of the old song, “He paid a debt he did not owe.  I owed a debt I could not pay.  I needed someone, to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song ‘Amazing Grace.’  Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.” (G. McSpadden) These words sum up the freedom Jesus gave us at Calvary – we’re out on bail awaiting eternal judgment where the Judge will declare innocent all those who have received Jesus’ payment.

However, not everyone has honored Christ’s generous payment – there are so many bail jumpers. Just like the bondsman for the courts, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)  Some would say it was risky business sending His Son to die for us, and we can understand why God has sent us to round up those who are running from their day in court.  Don’t they understand that the debt has been paid for them?   “And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation…We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)  My heart cries with Paul, “Come back to God.” 

Moving Forward: I can never thank the Lord enough for taking a chance on me!  I will, at the very least, help Him capture with His love all those who are running from Him. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 45-50

Job 15-16 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He knows me and loves me enough to witness on my behalf

After observing a lengthy high profile court case on television a few years ago, I came to understand the role of a witness.  The case was filled with witnesses for both the prosecution and for the defense, and it was the job of the opposing lawyer to discredit each witness as much as possible so that the testimony became null and void.  Sometimes the courtroom atmosphere got a little heated as accusations were made, and I’m not talking about the room temperature.  Job’s courtroom in our reading today was picking up in intensity as the name calling continued and accusations were made. 

@ Job 15
Eliphaz continued his indictment of Job even after being called a worthless quack in Job’s last dialogue. Eliphaz was obviously offended and struck back with a long discourse about what happens to wicked people.  “Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:  ‘A wise man wouldn’t answer with such empty talk! You are nothing but a windbag… Your own mouth condemns you, not I.  Your own lips testify against you…The wicked writhe in pain throughout their lives. Years of trouble are stored up for the ruthless.  The sound of terror rings in their ears.’” (2,6,20-21)  Eliphaz, who was only a witness to the events of Job’s life, went ahead and judged Job guilty of sin and tried to scare Job into repenting of sins he hadn’t committed. What a comforter!

I can’t help here but think of our accuser, the devil, who stands before God accusing us of all manner of evil. (Rev 12:10)  But I’m so thankful to know just how God views him, “[The devil] has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)  We, too, should remember his title when he lies to us. 

@ Job 16
“What miserable comforters you are!  Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking? I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you.  But if it were me, I would encourage you.  I would try to take away your grief.” (2-5)  I pray my counsel is never judgmental and arrogant like that of Eliphaz, but rather that it is as Job suggests and is filled with encouragement – words that remove grief rather than cause it.

“O earth, do not conceal my blood.  Let it cry out on my behalf.  Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high. (18-19)  Job was aware that he had a witness in heaven, Someone who had witnessed every deed, every word of his life, and he was calling on that witness to speak on his behalf.  However, Job was in the process of learning to give witness himself to the faithfulness of God regardless of his circumstances.

We, too, have a witness in heaven who sees every part of our lives and is well able to speak on our behalf.  But just as Job was working on his public confession of trust in God, we are called by Jesus to do a little witnessing ourselves in Matthew 10:32-33, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”  If we witness for Him, He’ll witness for us.

When accusations and taunts come to us that cause confusion, condemnation and distress, we can know that they do not come from the One who knows the truth. And as we give witness to the faithfulness of God, we can call on the One who is truth to plead our case, our Witness in Heaven who knows all things—He is the one witness that no one can discredit! 

Moving forward – Today I will refuse words and thoughts from the enemy and the accusations of things that are untrue.  I call on my Witness who knows and sees everything to speak on my behalf. 

Tomorrow@Isaiah 40-44