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

Job 13-14 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: The all-knowing God directs our lives according to His knowledge

We’ve all heard the sayings, ignorance is bliss and what you don’t know can’t hurt you, but it’s difficult to not know or be ignorant in this information age. There are times, usually about midday, when my brain just hurts from too much input, but thankfully it’s nothing that a good cup of coffee doesn’t cure.  Most often knowledge on just about any subject is invaluable and helps to protect us. It enriches our lives, although sometimes not knowing does offer momentary bliss.  However, in Job’s situation, not knowing was almost killing him. 

@ Job 13
After much discussion, Job’s dialogue with his visitors became, well, cranky to say the least, and I really don’t blame him.  “As for you, you smear me with lies. As physicians, you are worthless quacks.  If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do.” (4-5) Job also questioned their audacity to speak for God without His permission.

“Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent.” (17-18) No longer filled with the earlier lofty questions to his friends about God and His actions, Job took matters into his own hands and decided to take his case to court before God—and became his own lawyer!

He personally wanted to ask God what the charges were against him, why had God turned from him.  But in the closing remarks of his trial, this broken man, filled with sorrow over loss, covered with sores, acquiesced, “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.” (14:5)  Job lost all hope for the future.

It’s important to remember here that we know some things that Job was not privy to. We are aware of Satan’s challenge in Chapter 1, but Job had no knowledge of it.  He had no idea of the purpose behind all his pain, and while Job felt he was being wrongfully punished, we know he was being tested.  Walking through difficult times in the past, nothing comparable to Job’s trials I might add, I often wondered if I had done something to cause it – why this pain?  After examining my heart for a cause, I came to realize that there are just some things I am not privy to. God has a plan and a purpose that I may or may not someday understand, and that’s okay because I have hope.

Where Job had little to no knowledge of eternal life, we are well aware that we are simply sojourners through this life on our way to heaven.  It makes me smile to read Job’s hopeful question, “Can the dead live again?  If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle.” (14:14)  Job was brave to even ask the question in his day.  Can the dead live again?  Yes, Job, yes!

We are blessed to live on this side of Calvary with a Bible to read, where we learn about God’s purpose for us and the knowledge that we will one day live again to spend eternity with Him. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18NKJ)  Where Job sat in despair, uncertain of his future, we have hope of an eternal future with God.  Be comforted! 

Moving forward: Because God is in control of today’s challenges, I have hope for the future and the assurance of eternal life with Him. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 34-39

Job 9-10 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He sent a mediator to reconcile mankind to Him

When labor and management are in a dispute over wages or work conditions, the atmosphere can get tense and volatile.  Fortunately, individuals are brought to the table with the ability to negotiate the terms of a contract between the two parties to bring them together. These mediators are highly gifted in this arena and do their best work when they have the complete trust of both parties. The best mediators have the keen ability to make both sides feel as if they won – now that’s a talent.  In our reading today, Job was looking for someone who could do this very thing – Job was looking for a mediator. 

@ Job 9
“God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.  If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together.” (32-33)  Poor Job had presented to God his side of the conflict as best he could, but from his standpoint, negotiations for relief were going nowhere.  First of all, he couldn’t see God, “Yet when He comes near, I cannot see Him.  When He moves by, I do not see Him go.”(11)  Job did not have an experience to hold on to like Moses did where God’s presence was seen in a tangible way. Secondly, Job felt inadequate to talk with God, “So who am I that I should try to answer God or even reason with Him?”(14)  Job wanted a qualified mediator who was worthy to talk to God on his behalf, yet one who understood his pain.  It certainly would not be any of his so-called friends.

We, on the other hand, are privileged to have a top-notch, highly-qualified, personal mediator working 24/7 to negotiate with God on our behalf.  Our mediator lived tangibly on earth at one time and understands our pain, yet He lives in heaven and is seated right next to God – who better to mediate for us!

Our mediator’s great bargaining chip is that He was willing to die in order to bring both sides together, “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ JesusHe gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” (1Timothy 2:5)  Talk about a win/win situation!  And Jesus still sits at the table, so to speak, mediating on our behalf should our communication with God break down, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins…” (1 John 2:1-2)

Job didn’t know that he was calling for the Mediator across the centuries of time who would one day come to bridge the gap between sinful man and a sinless God.  Of course, God was listening to Job’s lament, spared his life and blessed him abundantly. But it was Jesus who ultimately negotiated for Job’s eternal life and for all of us as well by His death and resurrection.  The work of the great Mediator made us worthy enough to one day see Him face to face and worship around His throne, and He’s still on the job!

Moving Forward:  I’m so thankful today that I don’t need to negotiate my way into heaven – Jesus did it all! 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 23-28

Job 7-8 (NLT)

Discover His heart: Through His attention to our lives, He makes us more like Him

As a child, I don’t think I really appreciated the luxury of lying on the grass for an hour or two, drinking in all the Vitamin D I would need for the day and observing the cloud formations overhead.  I saw ships, alligators, clowns and whatever my imagination could conjure up and then think of all the adventures they held.  Over the minutes, I’d watch each image slowly dissipate into vapor, the story ended and the image was gone forever.  I’ve wondered how a video game could possibly compete with that, but I guess that’s just me.  Job had watched a few cloud formations in his day; in fact, he felt that he was one. 

@ Job 7
“O God, remember that my life is but a breath, and I will never again feel happiness.  You see me now, but not for long.  You will look for me, but I will be gone.  Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes, those who die will not come back.  They are gone forever from their home—never to be seen again.” (7-10)  Clearly, Job’s reflection on clouds did not hold for him the same happy thoughts that my memories give to me.  Yes, this life is fleeting, as James concurs with Job in James 4:14, “For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (NKJV)  Nevertheless, while we are living, we have adventures and stories to live out, but Job didn’t care much for his adventure, and I can’t really blame him.

Early in history, God-fearing individuals had little knowledge or understanding of eternal life.  Job wanted God to know that time was running out for Him to bring justice to his situation in life or at least to bring an explanation.  Job would die, and he would be no more.  Later in the book, Job uttered a brave hope of a life after death, but without the revealed truths from God’s Word that we have, he had no assurance of a better day.  With the Bible as the vanguard directing our lives, we have the understanding that regardless of the trials we face during this brief vapor of life, eternal life is in our future.

Reading Job’s cry for help is difficult, to say the least, but the real stab to my heart comes in verse 16, “I hate my life and don’t want to go on living.”  His words make me think of the all too many times I’ve heard individuals, young and old alike, utter these words in despair. Words of comfort often fall useless to the ground, but it’s then that I pray for a revelation of eternity from God to flood their hearts and minds.  Life with its pain and disappointment is short, eternity is a very long time.

“What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often?  For you examine us every morning and test us every moment.  Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow!…Why make me your target?” (17-20)  Or in today’s urban lingo, “Why you all up in my business?”  No matter how it’s said, Job’s response to God in the midst of his trial is opposite to the response of what we read yesterday.

Yesterday we read that David found God’s constant watch over him comforting, but Job found it annoying at best. Job felt God had made him His target, which was true in a sense; and over the course of his affliction, Job would correct the very area where God was aiming.  Imagine that!  When we’re going through a rough patch in our journey, we may be tempted to consider ourselves God’s target for pain and agony, especially when things are not resolved quickly.  Just as God was perfecting Job through his pain, He uses our trials to perfect us and make us more like Him.  In the process, we may mutter, “Why you all up in my business?” but then, isn’t that really where we want Him to be?  Watching over us, protecting, avenging and perfecting.

Moving Forward:  I surrender my business to the Lord today. I’m so thankful that He is mindful of my brief stint on earth, and my cry is “Don’t leave me alone!” Someday, our eternal life with Him will make it worth it all.

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 18-22

Job 5-6 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: No matter the struggle, our lives are in His hands 

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows but Jesus.  Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, Glory hallelujah!” The author of this old spiritual is unknown, but plenty of troubled souls through the decades could have authored it, individuals with trouble so deep that no one but Jesus could really fathom it.  These songs of woe are not the kind of music that we listen to for comfort or relaxation, but when we’re going through a deep trial, we sometimes are comforted by the fact that someone understands.  Job was looking for a little understanding, a little comfort from his friends, but all he got was grief.  “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…” 

@ Job 6
Job had just listened to one of his comforters accuse him of sinning in Chapter 4, followed up in Chapel 5 by advice to rejoice in the Lord’s correction because it brings repentance.  Solomon’s writing concurs with this advice, “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)  It was great advice, but unfortunately it was not germane to the subject – Job was not being corrected.

At this point, sitting in an ash heap, covered with sores and having lost everything, Job responded, “If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. That is why I spoke impulsively.  For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrowsDon’t I have a right to complain?…Don’t people complain about unsalted food?” (1-4,6)

Did he have a right to complain?  Absolutely!  Will it help? Not much.  Job’s question makes me want to repent for ever complaining about anything – bad beds, bad food, sore feet, old cars – all trivial compared to Job’s pain. Yes, I’m convicted.  However, rejection, loneliness and disease often bring a word of justified complaint or frustration from us, but those words seldom help and just hearing them from our lips often deepens the pain.

Our hearts go out to Job and the trouble he’s seen that nobody knows or understands… but the Lord.  Job’s friends insisted his misfortunes were correction, “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin.” (5:17)  Job decided his misfortunes were an attack, “For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows. Their poison infects my spirit. God’s terrors are lined up against me.” (6:4)  But God, Job’s Almighty, knew Job’s misfortunes were a test, “All right, you may test him,’ the Lord said to Satan.” (1:12)  Job never understood who was really throwing those arrows, but in the overall scheme of things, it was irrelevant.  We learn in the chapters to come that God was testing Job in an area that even Satan knew nothing about.

In the trials we face, we may endure the judgment of others or assign blame for it ourselves; but regardless of all this, it is God who knows the purpose and the promise in everything we go through. Will we trust Him through the process?

Moving Forward:  Not complaining today!  Nope, not me.  Not singin’ any songs of woe or tellin’ any sad tales.  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 12-17

Job 3-4 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: Unthreatened by our questions, He answers those at the heart of our need

The tales I’ve heard about the language mother’s-to-be have used in the throes of delivering their babies could make a grown woman blush, especially in the days before the pain relievers available today.  I think of the dear father coaching his sweet wife along in the process when the pain of an absolute explosion occurring in her abdomen causes her to lash out at the instigator of all this pain.  Obviously, the lack of understanding in his advice was insulting and not welcomed.  Poor guy – he was just trying to help!

Just like these fathers, we may experience something similar when we offer advice after listening to someone’s woes.  That well-intended advice could come back to bite us. Some questions come to mind from our reading today in Job:  In the midst of a struggle and in our telling of it to others, what response are we really expecting from them?  What is our responsibility as a listener? 

@ Job 3
In all the trials that Job faced, he did not take his wife’s advice to curse God, but he did do some cursing.  “At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth.” (1)  So miserable was his existence that he asked that the day of his birth be removed from the calendar. (6)  Job just wanted to die.  Jeremiah expressed similar words in Jeremiah 20:14, “Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.  I curse the messenger who told my father, ‘Good news—you have a son!’”  Some struggles in life are so painful that dying just seems easier.

Job began his questioning of why, seven times just in this chapter alone. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die…Why is life given to those with no future?” etc. (11-23)  God isn’t really threatened by our questions because He made us and understands our desire to know the answer to our why; but in this testing, God had more important truths for Job to learn.

Job’s friends had come to him and sat in silence which was the custom of the day, but also because grief and anguish leave many of us without words.  However, when Job started to ask his many questions, his friends felt compelled to answer, and answer they did.  As in the mother scenario, Job did not care for their answers.  Perhaps we can learn from Job’s experience that when going through a crisis, we can express our sadness and pain to caring listeners, but for the answers to our difficult questions, we are wise to go to those who may have actual answers, and even more so, we should seek the Lord. 

@ Job 4
Put on the spot, Eliphaz, the most seasoned of Job’s friends, felt obliged to answer, “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?  My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” (7-8)  Because we are privy to the dialogue of Chapter 1, we know that Eliphaz, in all his experience, was just offering his opinion in Job’s case and even had the audacity to say he was speaking on God’s behalf.  His counsel to Job was inaccurate and wasn’t helpful.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul strongly encouraged to “Share each other’s burdens,” and this is one of the many blessings we receive as believers.  Sometimes we feel all we can do is listen to our hurting friend, but so often, that is exactly what is needed.  The most valuable time Job’s friends spent with him was when they sat in silence.  From Eliphaz’s poor counsel, we learn that the best and most helpful advice is based on fact and not on opinion.  Finally, praying with our friend is the one thing we can do that opens the door to God’s supernatural intervention for their need. Whether He uses us or someone else to help our friend, He is the One who knows all the right answers to all the questions and reveals them at just the right moment.

Moving Forward: For those I meet today who may be hurting, I pray that my response is Spirit-led, whether in simply listening or in sharing truths. 

Tomorrow @ Isaiah 7-11

Job 39-40 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He will humble us when necessary to produce complete trust in Him

For anyone who is questioning negative circumstances in your life today, read on.  You are in good company!  Many leaders in the Bible questioned God about what was happening in their lives – David, Moses, Gideon to name a few.  I believe that God understands our questioning, and He wasn’t threatened or angered by their questions. However, it appears that Job had crossed a line in his own defense.  When we consider ourselves so righteous that nothing negative should ever happen to us, we imply that God has made a mistake and He was wrong in allowing troubles to visit our lives.  At one point Job had the audacity to declare, “Look, I will sign my name to my defense.  Let the Almighty answer me.” (31:35)  And answer He did!

After a series of direct questions to Job regarding some of His incredible creation, the Lord asked him, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?  You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” (40:1-2)  Ouch.  Job had been waiting for this moment for quite some time, the moment when he could defend himself directly to God against this terrible injustice brought on him.  However, all he could say was, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?  I will cover my mouth with my hand.  I have said too much already.  I have nothing more to say.”(40:4-5)  Good answer, Job.  It was best to cover his mouth.

Yet, God’s rebuke continued. I imagine with each of God’s pointed questions, Job sank a little closer to the ground.  In the end, I envision him a little puddle on the ground with a turban resting on it.  Sad to say, I can imagine this because I’ve been there.

God’s questions cause me to think about His creation in a different way.  Have we ever thought about the horse the way God describes it?  In days past, its bravery carried men to battle, with its snort and pounding hooves.  Other animals would have run from the terror of battle, but not the horse.  The silly ostrich with wings yet no ability to fly does not possess enough wisdom to protect its young, yet can run faster than the brave horse.  And the Behemoth, whose identity seems to range from an enormous elephant to the Loch Ness Monster, is the strongest of creatures, yet eats grass.

God has given us the ability to choose any or all of His other creation’s attributes.  We can be brave or fearful, strong or weak, silly or wise, cunning or foolish…vegan or carnivore, the list is endless.  How can we fail to trust the One who has placed so much trust in us?

God’s questions to Job could have gone on for all eternity, literally, but all of His questions beg of me a greater question or two.  Will I trust the One who made me and all of creation?  Is there a chance that His wisdom in any given situation is greater than my own?  I cover my mouth… 

Moving Forward:  In awe of Who you are, I cover my mouth and trust your divine design for my life.  You do not make mistakes.

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 37-41