Also, with broken families and the pressures of living in a post Christian world, older believers have a mission that has never been more important. If you are a senior adult, do you know what that mission is and are you being a good steward of it?
And from our New Testament reading … Many people think they are children of God because they belong to a certain church, were raised in a Christian home, have “always believed in God,” have been baptized, taken communion, or are “good people.” But can any of those things save us?
Job 7 & 8
Suffering & Sin
Job 7 & 8:
In chapter 7, Job pours out his complaints to his friends and to God and tries to justify his desire to die and bring all this suffering to an end.
Though there are times when we have to exhort, even rebuke, one another because we have gotten into excessive sorrow or self-pity, there are, also, times when we just need to listen and let them pour out their hearts. Bob Kellemen calls it “soulcare.”
In chapter 8, another of Job’s friends, Bildad, responds with the same underlying belief that Job somehow brought this on himself. Though not everything he says is wrong, it is his assumption that Job caused his own suffering, which was wrong. Remember God Himself said Job was, “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1.1).
That doesn’t mean our suffering is never the result of sin. Often it is caused, or at least complicated, by our own sin. Mike Wilkerson, in his book Redemption says we are all fellow sinners and fellow sufferers. It may be that we were sinned against, sometimes in grievous ways. But sometimes we respond to the other person’s sin with anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, by turning to drugs or alcohol, by acting out sexually, or in other sinful and self-defeating ways.
And there are times when we must lovingly confront one another, even when we understand that the person was also sinned against:
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.1-2).
How do we keep ourselves from ending up in the ditch because of some sinful response to another person’s sin?
We must examine our own hearts on a regular basis. James called the Word a mirror. We need to look into the mirror of God’s Word and see where we are not like Christ and where we have responded to others or our circumstances in sinful ways. We need to be honest about patterns of sin, wrong thinking, and wrong attitudes, and about our choices to go our own way, in spite of what we know is right.
We might ask questions like:
Am I responding to others or my circumstances with anger toward God? If so, I’m not trusting in God’s goodness and sovereignty (Ps. 52.1; Rom. 8.28).
Am I failing to love God by giving other things priority over Him? Am I choosing to run to food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or some other source of pleasure or relief, instead of running to God and relying on Him? If so, I’m failing to keep the first commandment (Ex. 20.3).
Am I choosing to withhold love, affection or fellowship from my spouse or someone else by giving him or her the silent treatment or, in the case of my spouse, withholding intimacy? If so, I’m failing to keep the two great commandments (Matt. 22.37-40).
When we see sin in our own lives, we need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and help to live life His way because when we don’t, the results can be disastrous.
He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Happy is the man who is always reverent,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity (Prov. 28.13-14).
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6.7-10).
Today’s Other Readings:
Good News for the Older Generation
Verses 13-14, “Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.”
That’s good news for those of us who are getting older!
Titus 2 talks about one of the ways God has called mature Christian women to bear fruit:
3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
With broken families and the pressures of living in a post Christian world, this is a mission that has never been more important. And while it may not be spelled out quite as clearly in the Titus chapter, it’s just as important for mature men to disciple younger men. May we all be good stewards of this responsibility.
How to Grow Your Faith and Trust in God
17-19a says, “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the LORD.”
We must be purposeful about our intake of God’s Word. We must “incline” our ears, focus our attention on what we are reading or hearing, otherwise we can go through the motions without really taking anything into our hearts. Then we must “apply” God’s truth to our lives—we must do what God’s Word shows us to do.
The end result will be our growth in faith and trust!
Going to Church Doesn’t Make You a Christian
Verses 6-7a, “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham …”
Paul loved his countrymen, the Jews, so much that he wished he could take their place as accursed (Rom. 9.3), or unsaved, but he knew that was not possible. Each of us must answer to God on our own and the only thing in question is “What have we done with the sacrifice of His Son?” Have we accepted Christ’s work on the cross as the only means of salvation or not?
Today many people think they are children of God because they belong to a certain church, or because they were raised in a Christian home, or because they have “always believed in God,” or they have been baptized, or taken communion, or are “good people.” But the truth is, none of those things can save us. If they could, why would Jesus have had to suffer and die that horrible death?
He did it to take our place, to take the punishment we deserved. We become His children by admitting that we cannot save ourselves and by putting our faith and trust in what He did for us.
Paul said in verse 8, “… That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Those who try to work it out in the flesh, by “being good,” by going to church, by being baptized … are children of the flesh, not the promise! We should do those things because we are believers, but those things cannot save us.
Once we understand that, we can and must tell others! I pray that none of us has to answer to God because we were too afraid we would offend someone. How much more offensive it would be for them to realize the truth when it’s too late!
In the next few days, we’ll look at sins that can be contagious, how to pray the Scriptures, how to be a good comforter, and our impossible calling. Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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Today’s Featured Book:
Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.
Redemption is not a step-oriented recovery book; it’s story-oriented and Bible-anchored. It unfolds the back-story of redemption in Exodus to help Christians better understand how Christ redeems us from the slavery of abuse, addiction and assorted trouble and restores us to our created purpose, the worship of God. Readers will discover that the reward of freedom is more than victory over a habitual sin or release from shame; it is satisfaction and rest in God himself.
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