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

Job 37-38 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He uses the challenges we face to perfect us, to make us more like Him 

@ Job 38
“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:  Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?  Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’” (1-3) This is not the way I want the Lord to begin a conversation with me.  Job had asked his whys? But God answered with Who?

The trial against Job had continued for quite some time.  The four accusers had laid out their case against him and each time Job had risen to his own defense, disputing their accusations.  At Chapter 38, God entered the courtroom.  He was not a witness to be cross examined.  He was not the prosecuting attorney for the four accusers.  He was not the defense attorney that Job was hoping for.  He was the judge.  “Brace yourself like a man!”  Help. 

Who laid out the universe, formed the seas with their tides and created darkness and light?  Were you there from the beginning, Job? Who made snow and rain, ice and frost and the laws of the universe that regulate all temperatures?  Who placed the constellations in the sky and directs the sequence of the seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall?  Because Job felt so free to question God’s dealings with him, it seems God was giving him an opportunity to evaluate whether or not he thought himself on the same level as Him.  Who? Indeed.

David often questioned God about things that were happening and defended his actions on occasion, but his heart was always one of repentance.  Job seemed to be a little too proud of his goodness to accept what had happened to him, implying that he knew better than God.  Perhaps this pride was the catalyst for Job’s great test as much as Satan’s request in Chapter l.

In all his goodness, was Job beginning to reflect the arrogance of Lucifer before the fall?  Where would it lead?  These questions are without answers, but they cause me to examine my own life.  Each day I ask God to purify my heart of pride and little roots that can take hold and imply that any goodness in me could come from anywhere but Him.  I want to avoid those brace yourself moments with God.

Job proved Satan’s accusation in Chapter l wrong.   He did not curse God when his world was attacked as Satan had predicted, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.” (19:25) Job had passed this test.  However, God often uses difficult times in our lives to bring about something better in us.  God was perfecting Job, and Job soon learned the what in his experience, what would make him a better man. God’s response to Job was not one of a casual acquaintance, where attitudes and weaknesses are just ignored. His response was based on relationship, personal and intimate.

The old saying comes to mind, “God loves you just the way you are. But he loves you too much to let you stay that way.”  I love Him for this, that He loves me enough, that He is mindful enough of little me, to change me and make me more like Him. 

Moving Forward:  I will focus today on Who He is.  I may or may not learn the why of the challenges I face, but in knowing Who, I will soon learn what He is perfecting in me. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 32-36

Job 35-36 (NLT)

Discover His heart:   He uses our challenges to teach us and help us grow

Shortly after surviving the terrible twos when raising our children, we enter the world of Why?  Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why do I have to eat my broccoli? Why do I have to go to bed?  Why do stars shine? Why, why, why?  When my grandson, Kai, entered his twos (not terrible in the least bit) his inquisitive mind jump-started right into the world of why.  Is it ever okay to say that I just don’t know why? It was a long year, but we loved every minute of it.

This ritual seems to be the way we accumulate knowledge in our early years, and sometimes that nagging why continues to plague us even into adulthood. We just can’t seem to get past why things are happening to us.  Most of the great leaders in the Bible asked God why at one time or another, but Job seemed to be stuck there. At some point along the way we all learn that the real question is not why, but what. 

@Job 35
When we’re making every effort to live right, resisting things that we would like to do in order to remain pure yet pain and suffering come our way, we’re attempted to share Job’s dismal outlook.  What’s the use of it?  If we continue to wallow in this opinion, we give the impression that we are more correct about our circumstance, more righteous than God in how it should be handled. Not good. Just like Job, we may not have the full picture of our situation, but God most certainly does.

Elihu raised an interesting point, “If you sin, how does that affect God?  Even if you sin again and again what effect will it have on Him?  If you are good, is this some great gift to Him?  What could you possibly give Him?” (6-7) Elihu was right in saying God is neither damaged nor improved by our behavior, but He failed to say that God is blessed by our praise and grieved by our disobedience. 

@ Job 36
“God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress.  He is setting your table with the best food.  But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged.” (16-17) In his dissertation, Elihu was attempting to stop Job from focusing on why he was suffering and why other, more evil people, were not.  Self pity never serves us well.  He wanted Job to learn what God was trying to teach him through his suffering.

When it’s all said and done, I’ve found it’s always better to ask the Lord what rather than why when I am going through a challenging situation because it usually shortens the length of my discomfort.  What can I learn through this suffering?  What lesson will help me move forward to the other side?  Job’s what was right around the corner in Chapter 38.

Look, God is all-powerful. Who is a teacher like Him?  No one can tell Him what to do, or say to Him, ‘You have done wrong.’  Instead, glorify His mighty works, singing songs of praise…Look, God is greater than we can understand.” (22-26)  Some good advice from Elihu at this point.  When I am in that holding pattern, with few answers and little direction, one thing I can do is glorify His mighty work in my life, thanking Him for all His blessings in days past.  I can sing songs of praise to Him, expressing my love for Who He is and for His power to deliver. 

Moving Forward: I will praise Him today through my circumstances, opening my heart to what He is longing to share with me.. 

Tomorrow @ Jeremiah 27-31

 

Job 31-32 (NLT)

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

Our eyes certainly 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 in his book, “Every Man’s Battle,” on this subject and encouraged the bounce response.

Arterburn suggests 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.

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 believed that all suffering was the punishment for sin. They deducted either God was wrong or Job was lying, and God is never wrong. 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.

Obviously, 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 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 greedy 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 and watches over our lives

I clearly 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 great 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 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 the 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 super highways, but deep within the earth is an abundance of precious gems and fuels. Even in Job’s day, man had found these unseen 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 answers 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 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 Him, 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 great 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 thought 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