Archive for May, 2011

Job 29

Job 28 gives us a great look at how Job saw himself.  He is reflecting on the way things were – sort of his resume if you would of his life before the current struggles overtook him.  “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me”.  Take a read of the way Job describes himself.  He was truly a man who was living life large – and walking with God.  Does your resume look at all like this?  He begins by talking about his relationship with God:

–       “his lamp shone upon my head

–       by his light I walked through darkness

–       the friendship of God was upon my tent

–       the Almighty was yet with me

Then the people in his patch:

–       “my children were all around me

–       my steps were washed with butter

–       the rock poured out for me streams of oil

–       young men saw me and withdrew

–       the aged rose and stood

–       the princes refrained from talking and laid their hand on their mouth

–       the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to the roof of their mouth

–       When the ear heard, it called me blessed

–       when the eye saw, it approved

–       Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel

–       After I spoke they did not speak again

–       They waited for me as for the rain

–       they opened their mouths as for the spring rain

And then the things he had done – how he lived

–       “I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him

–       I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy

–       I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban

–       I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame

–       I was a father to the needy

–       I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know

–       I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth

–       I smiled on them when they had no confidence

–       I chose their way and sat as chief

–       I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners

It reminds me of God’s truth about Jesus – He grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.  Job’s description of himself talks about those kinds of things – he was living with God, with those around him and doing great things for all as a leader, father, husband and servant.  Job has quite a resume about life.  What does your resume say about your walk with God?  How you live with those in your patch?  What you are doing to make a difference?  Does it sound at all like Job’s?

Job 28

Job 28 continues Job’s response to his buddies.  The topic in this chapter – wisdom.  He begins by reminding them that there are a lot of valuable things the earth offers – gold, silver, bread, onyx, sapphire, pearls – the list can go on and on.  And the reality is that many of us chase those things – the stuff of life.  We get sucked into the pursuit of earthly riches.  We rent storage units to put stuff in because it won’t fit in our houses any longer.  We accumulate stuff.  Why?  Because we have been deceived into thinking that he with the most stuff wins.  That is not how it works in God’s economy.  The reality is that all the stuff will burn up and be gone someday.  It doesn’t matter at all.  It is of no value.  It is merely taking space.

Job asks the two key questions we need to consider: “where shall wisdom be found…..where is the place of understanding”?  Wisdom and understanding – that is what we need to pursue with all our hearts.  We trade a lot of our 168 hours every week to get stuff – and so very few focused on chasing wisdom and understanding.  To be honest – we are way off the track here and in the weeds.  We are pursuing things that don’t matter and totally ignoring what does.  Job tells us the reality about wisdom – what we spend most of our time on won’t get any wisdom for us.  “It cannot be bought for gold…..the price of wisdom is above pearls”.  All that money we work so hard to earn won’t buy us wisdom. Stuff is not the answer to finding it.  We are on the wrong treadmill. 

Job reminds us that “it is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air”.  We won’t find wisdom in the store where money can buy it.  We can’t get it from some Internet site or online at Amazon.  It isn’t something we will just happen to run across as we spend most of our time pursuing our own agenda.  But there is some hope because “God understands the way to it, and He knows its place”.  That’s a great tidbit of information – the way we can find wisdom is to get close to God.  He created all things after all – so obviously He does understand how it all works.  So what is the secret to finding wisdom?

Job tells us in one sentence: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding”.  It has nothing to do with our stuff.  It has really got nothing to do with us.  It is all about God.  It is about how we live in relationship with God.  Wisdom is about knowing who God is and having a healthy respect for Him.  It is understanding that God is God and we need to fear Him – He is in absolute control.  He is worthy to be praised.  And realizing that God is in control and has requirements for how we live should make us very careful in how we do exactly that.  We need to turn from evil and follow God’s direction for our lives.  Where do we find that info?  In His Word – the Bible.  The Bible tells us about God and how we are to live.  It is a key source to our discovery of wisdom.  It helps us know God so we can fear Him appropriately – the stories of His interaction with the world are amazing.  We can learn much by reading and studying His Word.  Are you reading the Book?  Do you know God?  Do you fear Him?  It all starts with knowing the God who created the universe and putting Him in His right place in our lives.  It is all about God.  That is where wisdom and understanding come from.  Not some book – The BOOK.  Get it off the shelf and read it.  It will not only change your life – but followed – it will lead your life to wisdom and understanding!

Job 27

Job 27 continues Job’s response.  He has been through a lot – yet He stands firm in His walk with God.  “As long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit….till I die I will not put away my integrity from me”.  Job is steadfast and faithful.  He is not going to allow the circumstances of the time to cause Him to lose sight of God and the relationship he has with God.  Job is anchored in the Father.  He says “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days”.  Job just keeps on walking the walk.  He lives the way he talks.

Not many people can actually say that.  They talk one story and live a different one.  Not so with Job.  He has stayed the course through all the hardship and struggle of the past days.  He has not lost his foundation – and continues to walk with God.  How can he do that?  Because He knows God.  He knows the character of God.  He knows that God is true to His Word and His promises.  Job knows that God is trustworthy and able.  And Job knows that we need to know that as well.  He offers: “I will teach you concerning the hand of God; what is with the Almighty I will not conceal”. Job is willing to share the lessons learned from this very difficult patch in his life.  He wants others to know the hand of God.  He wants everyone to understand that God is not only willing, but able, and will do what He says.  Job wants to be a beacon of light for the truth.

He teaches us by asking this question: “For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life”?  Do you have an answer?  What is the hope for those who don’t know or have God in their life?  It is a very hopeless situation.  There is no support or power to assist when life becomes overwhelming.  Having just returned from the devastation of the tornado in Joplin – I can assure you that those without the hope that God provides are struggling mightily.  What do you do when you face tragedy with no hope?  You spiral into despair and hopelessness.  God is faithful.  He is in control.  He does what He says.  He is God!

Job also teaches us that what seems to be unfair – that bad people get good things – is really just a perception.  “Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver”.  The reality is that even though evil sometimes seems to win – it won’t last.  It will be divided and taken away at the end.  The piles of wealth and stuff that seem to be accumulated by those who focus only on self and their own pleasure will vanish.  God will level the playing field at death.  God will judge each of us based on our lives.  What have we done about falling short of His mark – which is where we need to have a relationship with Jesus and the grace God offered through the Cross. That determines where we will spend eternity. And secondly, what have we done with all that He has entrusted to us – which is where we need to make sure to live a life focused on serving others and sharing what He has given us.  That determines the details of our eternity.  Are you ready?  As people in Joplin learned this week, and we all know, life is fleeting.  Be ready!

Job 25-26

Job 25-26 has Bildad making a few comments and then Job replying.  Bildad focuses on the unlimited God of the Universe that we serve.  He has no boundaries.  Nothing happens without Him.  And we as mere humans are not worthy.  “How then can man be in the right before God”?  There is no way for us to truly be right before God.  We are not able on our own power.  Bildad makes it clear that we are merely “a maggot…..a worm” when compared to God.  Quite a way to describe us – but when we compare ourselves to God – that is where we rank on the totem pole – we are nothing.  We are lowly maggots or worms when compared to Him.

Job challenges Bildad and reminds him that without God he can do nothing.  God alone is the source of power and knowledge and ability.  God provides the breath and knowledge.  Even the dead tremble before God.  We often forget just how mighty our God is.  And the fact that He alone contains the keys to the kingdom of life.  He created, He controls, He is.  “By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent”.  God not only created heaven and earth – He also won the victory of eternity – life over death – good over evil.   God is in control and the victor.

Job then reminds us ot this: “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand”? Sometimes we actually begin to think we know something. We begin to think we have God figured out.  The reality is that we know so very little about God really.  We only see the edges of who God is and what He does.  We will never truly understand Him – because He is far beyond our capability to do so.  God is so vast – so much more than we can ever know.  Do you have a respectful awe for our God?  Do you realize just how awesome He is?  God is so much more than we can comprehend.  We need to put Him in His place of praise and adoration!

Job 24

 In Job 24, Job identifies that God is the chief justice and in control of what the eternal outcome is for all man.  Since I am in Joplin in the midst of devastation – Job’s comment that “some move landmarks” really has a different meaning.  In the affected area of the tornado – there are no landmarks – no street signs – nothing to be able to know where you are.  One can easily get lost.  We all become very used to getting direction from landmarks.  We are always moving based on the things around us.  We know where to go right or left based on what is at the corner. 

That is what scripture should do for us as well.  It should give us landmarks on when and where to turn to avoid destruction.  When we learn those things by studying His Word – we can experience His power in our lives.  “God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power…..He gives them security, and they are supported, and his eyes are upon their ways”.  God does keep score. He makes things happen in our lives.  He will sustain us, secure us, support us and watch us.  But no human can do it on their own, and we must keep all we do in perspective of God’s eternal plan.  We must know His plan and line up with it.  Even those who are doing things His way will end life and we are told “They are exalted a little while, and then are gone….they are cut off like the heads of grain”.  You’ve heard it before – this is not our final resting place.  We are on earth as a preparation for eternity.  We have important work to do and how we live matters greatly to our eternal future – but all of us will die and go to a different eternal place – heaven or hell – based on what we do with Jesus.  The key is to realize that while we are here on earth – our task is to know God, His Truth, and line up our lives with that.

Too often we fall prey to the lies of the enemy that we can do whatever we want and it doesn’t matter.  In fact, we think we are able to get away with things – that no one will notice.  Bad answer and very bad thinking.  “There are those who rebel against the light, who are not acquainted with its ways, and do not stay in its paths….no eye will see me….he veils his face….In the dark they dig through houses”.  God has xray vision.  He also has night vision.  There are no secrets with God.  He sees all.  He knows all.  We are only fooling ourselves if we think we can get away with anything contrary to His plan.  We need to align with the light – to live according to His plan and His will.  We need to focus on being on His path.  Here in Joplin people are all over the disaster area digging through houses – not in the dark – but in daylight – trying to recover whatever they can from the mess.  That is a very difficult task even in the light.  When we try and do things in the dark – in secret – we won’t get far.  God knows, others will find out, and we will only damage our life and the lives of those in our patch.  There really is only one choice – live God’s way.  Are you doing that?

Job 23

 Job 23 has Job’s response once more.  Job begins by wishing He could have an audience with God: “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to his seat”.  Do you know where to find God?  Do you know how to approach Him?  He is there, always waiting.  We need to seek Him with all our heart – that is what scripture tells us.  When we seek Him, we will find Him.  The problem is that we seldom truly seek.  We want Him to come to us – on our terms – in our time – the way we desire.  Here is a news flash.  We are not equal with God.  We do not demand anything from Him.  He alone is worthy of our praise.  We need to humbly approach Him and come before His throne.

Job knows that when He finds God “He would pay attention to me”.  God is not too busy to listen. He is not too occupied to hear our hearts.  But we need to come to Him with humility and seek His face – not just His hand.  So often we come with a list of things we expect Him to do for us.  God is not our jeanie – He isn’t sitting around waiting for us to order Him to action.  God is in fact our King.  We need to keep Him in His right place.

Job gives us great insight to how we should live before God.  Take a look at how he has lived.  This is a model for what we ought to do:

–       “My foot has held fast to his steps

–       I have kept his way and have not turned aside

–       I have not departed from the commandment of his lips

–       I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food

–       he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind

Job has walked with God.  He knows the impact of that decision.  He has been true to God’s Word. 

But even with all that – He also knows that God is God.  And Job has a healthy fear of the Almighty.  “Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me”.  Job realizes that God is worthy of his fear.  How about you?  Do you consider the fact that God is the Creator of all things, but also the Judge?  He will make the final decisions around eternity.  Have you gotten right with Him?  Are you on good footing with Him?  He is worthy of our fear.  He is God.  Know Him – respect Him – praise Him – fear Him!

Job 22

In Job 22 Eliphaz comes to Job and asks this question: “Can a man be profitable to God”?  What do you think?  Does God need any of us?  Are we really necessary in His Kingdom and His economy?  We know that God is not dependent on any of us to accomplish His purpose.  But God does choose to use man as His messenger as well as His hands and feet to change the world.  God is looking for people who are willing to be surrendered to His work.  He wants folks who are willing to die to self, and live to His plans.  We can please God by the way we live and serve.  But it only happens when the agenda is His – not ours.  It happens when we are focused on His outcomes – not ours.  It happens when He is on the throne of our life and in control – not when we have wrestled the wheel away and are driving our own life.

Elipaz then asks a second question: “What does God know”?  An equally deep and philosophical question for us to consider.  The answer we find throughout scripture is that God does know all things – everything in fact.  There is nothing that happens in heaven or on earth that God is not aware of.  After all, He is the author of life. He created it all. There are no surprises to Him.  But often we seem to think that we somehow have pulled a fast one on God – that we have gotten away with something He didn’t notice or know about.  Oh how wrong we are on that.  Eliphaz asks this next question: “What can the Almighty do to us”?  Are you ready for the truth to that one?  God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants however He wants to us.  He knows no limitations. He has no lack of resources.  God is God.  He has access to all things and can do what He wants.  Because of that we should not “keep to the old way that wicked men have trod”.  We need to get our act together and walk wisely with Him.

Eliphaz gives us some fantastic direction on how we should live:

–       “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you

–       Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart

–       If you return to the Almighty you will be built up

–       if you remove injustice far from your tents

–       the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver

–       you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God

–       You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you

–       you will pay your vows

–       You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you

–       light will shine on your ways

The bottom line from this list is that God wants a relationship with us.  He wants to be central to our life.  He wants us to know His Word and make it the focus of how we live.  When we do – good things happen.  When we go it alone – we do it our way – we insist on being in charge – things don’t go so well for us.  We need to delight in the Almighty and focus on Him.  We need to let Him be God as we do our job of serving Him.  Do you have your priorities in line?  Is God in control of your life?  If not, there is no better time than right now to get it right!

Job 21

Job 21 has Job’s response to Zophar and the others.  Job becomes a bit philosophical in this chapter.  He questions much of the situation at hand.  And he asks this question which often is what many of us think?  “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power”?  Don’t you look forward to the day you can ask God that question when you get to heaven?  Why do the bad guys seem to get along ok while some of the good ones have all kinds of problems?  It isn’t fair – is it?  Do you wrestle with those thoughts – wondering why folks who ignore God and His Word seem to have a life of ease while others who follow and spend their time trying to walk with God struggle and deal with challenges?

God never promised life would be easy.  In fact – He didn’t even come close to saying that.  What He did promise – and what we need to cling and hang on to – is that He would never leave nor forsake us.  He promised that we would never have to face the struggles of life alone.  He is with us – and will always be beside us no matter what struggles we face.  That is our promise and our assurance.  Those who choose not to walk with Him do it alone – and they will go through those difficult times by themselves – but we don’t often see that pain.  We need to stay connected to God.  We need to realize that He is faithful and will not leave us alone.

Job also asks this very important question: “Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high”?  Are you teaching your kids and others in your life about God and His ways?  Do you know them yourself because you are studying His Word and taking in His direction?  We need to leave a legacy of teaching about God and His ways.  We need to share with those in our patch about the God we serve and love.  It is our job to teach about God – to live life so others can see how He works in us and through us.  People need to know the Father and His promises.  They need to know that He never leaves them if they cling to Him.  They need to know the grace that is offered through Jesus.  Who will tell them if you and I don’t?  God chose to reach the world through people like us.  We need to teach and share and live life so others will know!

Job 20

Job 20 contains Zophar’s description of what happens to a wicked person – one who defies God’s commands and just lives for self.  Job really is not living this way – but the principles that Zophar gives here describe the cavern between God’s ways and man’s self and evil driven ways when God is not present in a person’s life.  We can learn much about what happens – even though it seems that sometimes evil wins around us.  The reality is that it is fleeting.  Evil does not prevail.  The enemy does not win.  We know the final chapter of the Book and God’s already won.  But Zophar shows us how things occur – “This is the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God”. 

Zophar lists a number of characteristics that define what happens to the godless – the evil when they seem to be doing well.  The chapter is totally filled with them – dozens actually – and I am only going to highlight a few:

–       “the joy of the godless but for a moment

–       his hands will give back his wealth

–       God casts them out of his belly

–       He will give back the fruit

–       from the profit of his trading he will get no enjoyment

–       his prosperity will not endure

–       God will send his burning anger against him

–       The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him

The list could be much longer – but this is enough to give you the point.  Whatever seems to be good that someone walking apart from God receives – it won’t last.  It is momentary and fleeting.  God is in control of His economy – and will determine where prosperity truly ends up.  It won’t remain for those who get it apart from God – in spite of the short term view.  We need to stay focused on eternity and living God’s way.

God does pay attention.  How we live does matter.  There is a big difference in what the outcome will be because of how we live.  When it seems like the bad guys are winning…..remember that they really aren’t.  God will change the score in His time and in His way.  It is hard to make that mental adjustment – to not be frustrated when you know that things seem to be tipped to the side of evil.  But we have to take a longer term view of life – we have to remember that God is absolutely in control – and that He will direct the outcome in His time.  Evil will be revealed.  It will be overcome.  God will send His fury and make things right.  But not on my timeline. Not my way.  Not when I want it done.  My job – and yours – is to walk faithfully with God.  To live righteously, holy, godly lives.  To become what God desires – more like Jesus.  Are you focused on that?  Or are you consumed with those around you that seem to be blessed that don’t live God’s way.  It is not our job to even the score – that is God’s alone.  Our job is to live life for Him and control that which lies in our patch – 168 hours that we can focus and give to Him.  That is what we are called to do!

Job 19

Job 19 brings his reply to Bildad.  Job cries out for his friends to back off.  “Ten times you have cast reproach upon me” he says.  The people closest in his life are just piling on.  “You magnify yourselves against me and make my disgrace an argument against me.”  Job wants a break.  He is ready to have the people closest in his life just support him.  He feels totally alone.  “My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me”.  Isn’t that a good description of what often happens?  Everyone wants to be your friend when times are good – but as soon as challenges happen in life – they flee.  If things are going well – you are surrounded and people want to be close.  But have some struggles and people just want to get away.  They want to run and hide.  Job is alone – not only with the people around him – but he feels alone from God as well.

His plea is for them to realize his situation. Job describes it this way: “He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head”.  Job’s world has been turned upside down.  He has gone from being on top of it all – to feeling like he is completely lost.  And now rather than being in control, he is pleading for his friends to stay with him.  “Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me”.  We tend to run away from folks who are in pain.  We don’t know what to do – so we distance ourselves and may even say things like Job’s friends – things that may not be intended as accusatory but come out that way.  When people are in the depths of a struggle – that is when we just need to stay close and be there.  That is when we need to encourage them to look to God – most of all when He seems far away.

Job doesn’t ever lose sight of that.  Even in the midst of his deep pain and loss – he knows that God is still in control.  Job doesn’t understand why – but He does know Who.  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth….I shall see God”.  What a statement to make after all that he has gone through.  In the midst of it all – Job does not lose sight of who God is and the fact that He alone is his redeemer.  Job knows that God is alive and well – even though he can’t really see or feel His presence right now.  Faith takes over when we can’t seem to experience things up close and personal.  And Job knows his future and where he stands with God.  He knows that he will see God when he exits life on this planet.  Do you know God like that?  Are you sure that God lives – is your redeemer – and that you will see Him someday soon?  We all can have that as our own reality.  Jesus came to give us that future and hope.  He came to give us assurance of eternity.  Know that your redeemer lives and that you will see God someday.  Find Jesus – He is the way!

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