August 21 “Ease, distraction & poverty”

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Trying to find relief or distraction through entertainment, over-indulgence, and ease will all lead to poverty, not just physical poverty, but often, poverty of the soul.

Today’s Readings:
Job 33 & 34
Psalm 98.4-9
Proverbs 23.19-21
1 Corinthians 3.1-23

Job 33 & 34:

Even evil can result in good

Elihu, the fifth person in this scene, continues with his observations. He has patiently waited while Job and his other three friends have debated the issue of Job’s sufferings and his integrity or lack of it and now he wades in.

While Elihu makes some good observations (we will see in a few chapters that even God did not rebuke him as He did the others), his understanding was still limited. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.12:

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

There will always be things which we don’t fully understand. We see only a small portion of the tapestry of our lives, our families’ lives, and the events playing out around us. And even what we do see, we don’t see clearly. So when we go through a test or a trial or we read about some tragedy, we must filter it all through the goodness of God, the sovereignty of God, and the absolute holiness of God.

We hear of a child being molested, for instance, and we think “Why would God allow such a horrible thing?” But what if, as a result, that child got saved, and then she married a Christian man, and his life was impacted by her testimony, causing him to draw closer to God. Then when they had children, they raised them in a godly home and, as a result, their children were saved and many of the next generation and the next. Maybe a whole line of people was ultimately impacted by that horrible act, changing the eternal destiny of many. From an eternal perspective, would it be worth it? Continue reading

August 20 “If … if … if”

puzzledWe’re often a lot like Job and his friends. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

Job 31 & 32:

If … if … if

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (vv. 1, 9), if I had not been generous (vv. 16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (v. 13), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (vv. 24-25), if I had hidden my sin (v. 33), if I had stolen (v. 39), etc., then I could understand all this.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading

August 19 “A roller coaster of emotions”

roller coasterWhen we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show!

Today’s Readings:
Job 29 & 30
Psalm 97.7-12
Proverbs 23.15-16
I Corinthians 1.1-31

 

Job 29 & 30:

A roller coaster of emotions

Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.

Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we’re going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!

In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.

Continue reading

August 18 “To spank or not to spank”

angry childTo spank or not to spank? What is your source of truth? That’s been the question since Genesis 3. In this case, what is your source of truth concerning child discipline?

Today’s Readings:
Job 27 & 28
Psalm 97.1-6
Proverbs 23.13-14
Romans 16.1-27

 

 

 

Job 27 & 28:

The secret things belong to the LORD

In chapter 28 Job talks about the precious things in life which men will work so hard to dig out of the earth—gold, silver, precious stones. Then in verse 12 he says:

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”

The Bible teaches that the wisdom of God—that is—that measure of wisdom which He gives to men and women must be dug out, too. But there is a wisdom that remains with God.

Verse 13, “Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.”

 

Deuteronomy 29.29 says:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

God doesn’t always see fit to explain everything He does to us! There are things and truths and reasons which we will not know until we get to heaven, if then. But there are things that we can understand and those things are revealed to us through His Word.

Read the Bible in a YearIt’s our responsibility to read and study the Word and seek to understand. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to illumine our hearts. So if you struggle to understand something pray and ask Him to open your eyes that you might see wondrous things from His law (Ps. 119.18).

But in the end, if there is something going on in your life that you fail to understand, trust Him and remember that the secret things belong to the Lord. Continue reading

August 17 “The mere edges of His ways” & LINKUP

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Even nature in all its splendor shows us the mere edges of His ways.

Today’s Readings:
Job 26
Psalm 96.11-13
Proverbs 23.10-12
Romans 15.25-33

Job 26:

What an awesome God!

Job and his friends disagreed about the source of Job’s troubles, but they did not disagree about the glory, power, and holiness of God. Here in chapter 26, Job says …

earth, worldHe hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the water in His thick clouds, yet the clouds are not broken under it … He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at His rebuke. He stirs up the sea with His power, and by His understanding He breaks up the storm … Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” (v. 7-8, 10-14).

Think about that phrase, “these are the mere edges of His ways.” Even when we view the beauty and majesty of creation or see His power in lightning, hurricanes, and volcanoes or study the intricacies of the human body or watch the birth of a baby, we are only seeing the mere edges of His ways … His power … His wisdom … His glory … His holiness … His sovereignty. What an awesome God we serve!

creation, landscapePsalm 96.11-13:

His glory in creation

Verses 11-12:

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Here nature itself is pictured as rejoicing over the coming of the Lord to rule His creation.

Proverbs 23.10-12:

Apply your heart to instruction

Verse 12, “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.”

Like the loving Father that He is, God encourages us to give heed, to pay close attention to, instruction and knowledge.

prayerRomans 15.25-33: Continue reading

August 16 “You are able!”

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As the Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able and, therefore, should be willing to get our hands dirty, risk what people may think, and risk rejection, in order to speak the truth in love.

Today’s Readings:
Job 23-25
Psalm 96.7-12
Proverbs 23.9
Romans 15.1-24

Job 23-25:

Understanding and comfort from a book like Job

As we continue to read through God’s Word, especially the book of Job, it’s tempting to grow tired or get confused by all that is happening. As we read of Job’s sufferings, his friends’ lack of mercy and grace, and God’s silence so far, we should ask ourselves some questions.

How will coming to understand this better help me be more patient in my sufferings, disappointments, and temptations to wonder where God is? As the story continues to unfold, and we see God’s response and the latter part of Job’s life (chapter 42), how can it bring us comfort?

Often when we fail to grow in our understanding of Scripture it’s because we fail to ask the right questions. Now to today’s reading.

goldI shall come forth as gold

23.9-10, “When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

What a great statement of faith after all Job had been through! We may not be able to “see” what God is doing “on the right hand” of our lives. We may not understand why he is allowing something else “on the left,” but when we understand the goodness of God, the trustworthiness of God, the faithfulness of God, we can know that if we will stay focused on Him, when it’s all said and done, we, too, will have been tested and refined and come forth as gold!

anxiety & depressionIf you feel that you are being tested and you’re struggling to understand or if you want to help someone who is, James MacDonald has an incredible study called When Life is Hard available in print or on Kindle . You can also purchase a video Bible study kit from his website Walk in the Word. Continue reading

August 15 “Whatever is not of faith …”

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Even if something is not sinful, in and of itself, if we believe it is, and do it anyway, it reveals a heart that is willing to sin against God.

Today’s Readings:
Job 21 & 22
Psalm 96.1-6
Proverbs 23.6-8
Romans 14.1-23

Job 21 & 22:

What did you do about my son?

In chapter 21 Job tried to convince his friends that their conclusion about his suffering was wrong. He reasoned that because the wicked are not always punished in this life, they couldn’t say good is always rewarded and evil always punished. He pointed out that, at times, even people who shake their fist at God seem to do so with impunity.

We have probably all witnessed instances where that appeared to be true and it would have been easy to look around and say, “Why bother to live right?” But as Job said in verse 30, “the wicked are reserved for the day of doom …”

While sometimes the wicked prosper in this life, there will be a day of accounting when all the riches, all the success, all the fame will count for nothing!

salvation, cross

Hardly a month goes by that we don’t hear of the death of some celebrity or politician or other wealthy or influential person. And, while some of them may very well be saved, there is often nothing to indicate that was true. When they stand before God, He won’t be impressed with their money, their political clout, or their great acting talent! The only question that will matter is “What did you do about my son?”

Continue reading

August 14 “God, authority & speeding tickets”

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God is a God of order and He works through authority. We can’t say we’re fully submitted to God if we aren’t submitted to the authority He has placed in our lives.

Today’s Readings:
Job 19 & 20
Psalm 95.6-11
Proverbs 23.4-5
Romans 13.1-14

Job 19 & 20:

My Redeemer lives

In spite of all his miseries Job could still say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives …” That should put most of us to shame! He went on to say, “… I shall see God.” So no matter what, he was sure of his eternal destiny.

listening, earPsalm 95.6-11:

We will hear His voice

What a strong encouragement to us that as we “worship and bow down” and recognize that “He is our God,” that if He is truly the God who sits on the throne of our hearts, we “will hear His voice” and do what He asks us to do! Continue reading

August 13 “Our impossible calling”

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As followers of Christ, we’re to become living sacrifices. One way we do that is in our relationships with other people. We’re to love, prefer, and do good to others even when they hurt us. On our own that’s an impossible calling.

Today’s Readings:
Job 17 & 18
Psalm 95.1-5
Proverbs 23.1-3
Romans 12.1-21

We’re closing in on 2/3rd of the year gone and 2/3rd of the Bible read! Congratulations to those of you who are still going!

But even if you just joined us, the Word of God is always profitable!

On to Job …

Job 17 & 18:

Stronger and stronger

In chapter 17 Job seems sure he’s going to die soon. He grieves the fact that his friends have turned against him adding insult to injury. But through it all, Job did not turn away from God!

We’re left to wonder why God was silent, as He sometimes is in our lives, but, like Job, we must filter everything through the lens of Romans 8.28-29. While Job didn’t have the advantage of reading the book of Romans, he understood the truthfulness of those verses.

In verse 9 he makes this statement, “Yet the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger.” Sounds a little like Romans 8.28-29:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

“… those who love God …” or “the righteous” will grow “… stronger and stronger …” or become more like Christ! Continue reading

August 12 “On not being miserable comforters”

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Most of us will have opportunities in life to offer comfort to those suffering and grieving. Will we be miserable comforters like Job’s friends or be able to offer “a word fitly spoken” (Prov. 25.11)?

Today’s Readings:
Job 15 & 16
Psalm 94.20-23
Proverbs 22.28-29
Romans 11.19-36

 

Job 15 & 16:

Miserable comforters

Eliphaz and Job’s other “comforters” were faced with a dilemma most of us are faced with at one time or another—how to speak truth and yet bring comfort when someone else is suffering.

We can be faced with this dilemma when an unbeliever dies, for example. How do you comfort the family without giving false hope about the basis of salvation? We can’t say we are sure their loved one is in heaven, but we can say that no one knows a person’s heart except God alone. Only He knows what transpired in the past, or even in the days or moments before death. We can encourage the surviving loved one to trust in the goodness and perfect judgment of God.

It is also an opportunity to share with the family the importance of being sure they are in right relationship with God and not leave their family wondering about them should something tragic happen.

Families also need comfort when they or someone close to them is suffering. This can be through the illness of a child or spouse, a divorce, or some other tragedy.

In the beginning, often the best thing we can do is just be there … with a hug, a listening ear, or just our presence. What we don’t want to do is lecture them and act like we know what is going on in the mind of God like Job’s “comforters” did. Job ended up calling them “miserable comforters” (16.2)!

As time goes on, though, Continue reading