Also, is it possible for evil and suffering to lead to good? And could we be in danger of following men and not God?
Job 33 & 34
1 Corinthians 3.1-23
Habits that Rob Us of God’s Blessings
Verse 21, “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.”
Proverbs warns us about many lifestyle habits that can ruin our lives and keep us from enjoying the blessings of God. In this verse Solomon addresses drunkenness, gluttony and drowsiness.
The drunkard is looking for relief from her troubles, distraction from what she considers a life of boredom, or the fun and excitement she craves.
The glutton over-indulges on God’s blessings, whether food or something else.
The lazy person wants ease and relaxation to the point of neglecting his responsibilities.
These three character issues show up in different ways. The most obvious is the man or woman who gets drunk on alcohol or becomes addicted to drugs. Or the person who gorges on sweets or snack food, sometimes purging later. Or the person who refuses to work consistently, preferring to live in mom and dad’s basement or spare room.
But it’s also the mom who over-indulges in romance novels. She may take care of the physical needs of her children, but lives for nap time when she can escape into some exciting, romantic (sometimes steamy) adventure.
She’s missing out on the blessings of truly enjoying her children at each stage of life. And she often becomes discontented with the husband and life God has given her. Preferring to escape into her fantasy.
A dad who’s obsessed with video games or sports. He’s living for the week-end when he can don his team’s jersey or play his game for hours. His children and wife take second place to his escape and he loses out of the joy of family.
The parent or spouse who escapes into his or her smart phone or computer, sometimes hour after hour when everyone else has gone to bed. Sometimes while family members sit right beside them. They miss the opportunity to build genuine, healthy relationships.
The employee who lives for the week-end or the next vacation. They deprive themselves of the satisfaction of a job well done.
The child or adult who expects everyone else to wait on them hand and foot or to meet their every need. They miss the blessings that come with service and loving others.
Proverbs 27.20 says, “… the eyes of man are never satisfied.” We can never get enough of the things the flesh craves including leisure time, new and exciting kinds of entertainment, food and fun. Escape is only temporary. When we sober up, the problems are still there, often worse because of our neglect. We end up being left empty and devoid of any peace, joy or satisfaction.
The desire for these things leads to poverty, not just physical poverty, but poverty in their relationships and, often, poverty of the soul.
Instead, if we will allow God to fill us spirit, soul and body, we will find that the things of this world pale in comparison. And we are free to enjoy God’s blessings in their proper place and amount.
Psalm 90.14 is a great prayer. It says:
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (ESV).
And in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says:
There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God (Eccl. 2.24).
Today’s Other Readings:
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.
When we hear of a child being molested, for instance, 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?
But, too often, when something horrible has happened to us, we get hung up on the initial circumstance. We get focused on the unfairness of it all, and refuse to trust God and allow Him to do through our trials what only He can do.
Take Job’s sufferings—if we focus on how unfair it was to Job, we will miss so much of what was accomplished here. Although Job probably never understood everything God accomplished, thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of us who have read God’s Word have the benefit of witnessing a scene in heaven and gaining greater understanding about our sufferings and the sufferings of others.
In the meantime Job’s godly children (assuming they were) went straight to heaven, and Job, though he suffered greatly for a number of months, has been in heaven for several thousand years rejoicing, worshipping and fellowshipping with all of his children. I wonder how much thought he gives to those few months, except perhaps to reflect on how it deepened his relationship with God!
How the Rivers Clap their Hands
The psalmist said in this passage “let the sea roar… let the rivers clap their hands … let the hills be joyful.” In Psalm 19 the psalmist said, “the heavens declare the glory of God” and in Psalm 50, “the heavens declare His righteousness.”
How can creation declare, clap, roar or be joyful? Perhaps it does so as it fills our senses with the wonder and the reality of God!
1 Corinthians 3.1-23:
Followers of Christ Not Men
There was great division in the Corinthian church. Many of its members were more focused on the men who led and taught than on Christ Himself. How easy it is for all of us, with our favorite teachers and pastors and speakers, to get our eyes on them, and not on God and His Word.
While it’s not wrong to have favorite teachers, we don’t want to end up following men instead of God. And we must be good Bereans who search the Scriptures diligently and make sure that what we are being taught is the truth (Acts 17.11). Sometimes those we enjoy hearing are great Bible teachers, men and women who teach the Word of God in a balanced, accurate way, but if we’re not careful we can seek to hear those who tell us what we want to believe or hear, rather than the truth.
Paul, in writing to his disciple, Timothy, said in 2 Timothy 4:
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
We need to pray for our leaders that they will stay faithful to preach the truth, not to please us, but to be faithful to the One who has called them. And we need to pray for ourselves that we would not be like many of the Corinthians who could only handle milk and not solid food from God’s Word (1 Cor. 3.1-4)!
In the next few days we’ll talk about how to honor parents who were less than perfect, sexual immorality, the danger of not judging sin, creation science, and what the Bible says about taking a brother to court. Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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