Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 10 August 18:
1. Job 9:2 — “But how can a man be in the right before God?” There is no one and never has been anyone who could claim righteousness before God apart from Jesus who becomes righteousness (Romans 10:4) for those who live by Grace through faith in Him. Job appreciated the Holiness and Sovereignty of God, knowing that no person could meet His standard apart from His righteousness imparted to them. He did not know that Jesus would fulfill this requirement.
2. Job 9:11 – “Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.” The Spiritual God is not perceived in the physical, though His activities may be.
3. Job 9:15 – “Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.”
– Even when we appear right in our own eyes, we still fail in sin. Our very thoughts are impure before the Lord. We all depend upon the mercy and grace of God.
– Before we walked in Grace, we relied upon God’s mercy. Grace is getting a gift we don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. God is both gracious and merciful to us every day, and that reality should inspire how we treat others every day.
4. Job 9:17 — “For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause” It is impossible for us to fully understand God’s purposes and ways, and it is the height of arrogance to suppose that God owes us an answer. In faith, we ask for answers and trust Him when there is silence. However, when there is silence, we must be cautious not to presume to know what God is thinking or doing. We must simply remain obedient and lean not on our own understanding.
5. Job 9:20 – “Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.” Job knew he could not see his own unrighteousness or count on his own righteousness. If God’s mercy and grace depended upon Job’s righteousness, Job had no hope. Job’s friends told Him to repent and be saved, but Job did not know from what to repent.
6. Job 9:27, 28 – “If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer,’ I become afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not hold me innocent.” A positive mental attitude won’t solve our spiritual problems. Your hope does not rest in your attitude but rather in God’s providence.
7. Job 9:33 — “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.” No third party can solve your relationship problems with God or come between you and God, and you don’t need to go through another person to get to God. Through salvation, we have direct access, a personal, one-on-one, constant relationship with God. However, Romans 8:34 also says, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” The Holy Spirit within you is your Counselor, Teacher, and Guide, and Jesus is your constant advocate before the Father who you can confidently call “Daddy.” Of course familiarity should never breed contempt. The love we receive demands our complete and humble gratitude and respect.
8. Job 10:12, 13 – “You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose.” Job knew God loved him and, therefore, could not understand why He was letting him suffer. However, he knew God had His purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things, good or bad, together for ultimate good for those called according to His purpose. In John 17, Jesus tells you what that purpose is.
9. Job 10:15 — “If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace.” Job lived a responsible life and was prepared to take responsibility for His actions, but he did not understand what he had done wrong to deserve his pain. Like his friends, Job could not understand that God was not simply working through a contractual relationship with him based simply on rewards and punishments but rather was trusting Job with affliction for His glory. God’s purposes go far beyond our desires and our comfort. God was using Job for a purpose far beyond life. Job was on a mission he did not choose. Job could not see this and was filled with doubt and uncertainty. Job’s friends were of no help at this point because their vision was worse than his.
10. Job 10:18 — “Why did you bring me out from the womb?” Because Job couldn’t understand what was happening to him and because he had lost his illusion of control, he assumed his life was a failure, purposeless and meaningless; yet he couldn’t have been further from the truth. Do you lose hope when everything seems to go wrong and you lose the respect of your friends in your apparent failure?
11. Proverbs 10:3 – “Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked?” Results in life come from God.
12. Proverbs 10:4, 5 – “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” God’s word calls you to be as productive as you can, while you can, so that when you can’t produce you have something to sustain your needs and the needs of those who depend upon you.
13. Proverbs 10:8 – “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” God’s commands are not complicated or hard to understand. Those who debate about them or attempt to redefine them through sophisticated arguments are seeking ways to justify rebellion against God.
14. Proverbs 10:20 – “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.” What you say reveals what is in your heart.
15. Proverbs 10:22 – “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” God’s commands are intended for you to have complete joy on earth (see John 15). We should obey God because we love Him, not merely to receive blessings for ourselves. However, obeying God does promote His blessings with no added sorrows. Trouble comes with wealth achieved outside of God’s will.
16. Proverbs 10:25 – “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” The storms of life hit everyone, but the godly stand firm on the Rock, Jesus.
17. Proverbs 10:29 – “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.” God’s will is unyielding and results in blessings or curses depending on how a person responds to it. God wants us to choose blessings.
18. Luke 15:1-3 – “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So, he told them this parable…”
– Through parables in Luke 15, Jesus reveals the difference between the pharisaical attitude toward sinners and the Christian attitude. While the Pharisees in their self-righteous indignation despised sinners and looked forward to their punishment, Jesus, with love and compassion, greatly desired to save sinners and bring reconciliation to their broken relationship with the Father. In his parables, Jesus describes a heart for reconciliation that is as enthusiastic or desperate as one would be searching for a lost treasure or lost child. How desperate are you to bring people to Christ for their reconciliation?
— From 2 Corinthians 5: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves…. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
19. Luke 15:7 — “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
– The Pharisees, who saw themselves as the protectors of God’s standards, likely felt Jesus was condoning sin or making light of sin by reaching out to sinners. However, Jesus was doing neither. His message from the very beginning of His ministry was, “Repent,” and Jesus kept Himself holy and blameless in the midst of sinners, always proclaiming the truth in love. Jesus was ‘about His Father’s business’ of bringing the lost back to Him, and Jesus makes to point that all of God’s Kingdom, His true subjects, rejoice greatly when the lost are found. In fact, Jesus repeats the point three times, which is an old way of demonstrating the highest degree of exclamation — “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents…. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:10, 32)
– Usually, the parable of the lost sheep is preached to extol the virtues of evangelism – reaching those who do not know about Jesus. Evangelism is certainly the call of the church, given by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28); however, the parable of the lost sheep refers to reconciling believers who have gone astray, sheep that are already part of the fold, not unbelievers who aren’t yet part of the fold. Jesus first calls us to bring repentance to the church that light might shine from the church to unbelievers. Unrepentant sinners are not fit for evangelism. You don’t have to be perfect for evangelism, none of are, but you must be repentant and humbly reliant on God’s grace in order to proclaim God’s grace; and those to whom to seek should see the evidence of your faith in your changed life. We need corporate repentance and revival in our church.
20. Luke 15:15, 16 – “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.” Too many Christians have sought to partner with the world for their prosperity, denying the birthright in Christ, only to discover that the world is heartless and has nothing for them.
21. Luke 15:18 – “I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” Returning to the Father starts with genuine repentance.
22. Luke 15:19 — “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” The truly repentant person is more than happy to be a servant.
23. Luke 15:20 – “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Reconciliation requires action by the offender and a willingness by the offended to receive the offender. God runs to those who are truly repentant.
24. Luke 15:29 — “I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.”
– Though the older son stayed with the Father, He did not share the Father’s heart of compassion and grace. Rather, the ‘faithful’ son had a heart of pride and resentment towards His brother, and in his pride, he judged both his brother and his father. The self-righteous arrogantly demand justice be administered against others, forgetting their own reliance on grace and the blessings they have received from God. The self-righteous display the traits of the flesh — anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy, etc. Sin is a loss of perspective of who God is, who we aren’t, and what God wills. When we display sinful attitudes towards others it is because we have made ourselves more important than God. This is idolatry.
– Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son is as much about the older son who remained as it is about the wayward son or the father. Year after year the older son labored for his father, waiting for a future reward. He had seen the brokenness his brother’s rebellion had caused his father. Yet when his brother returned, the older son did not rejoice with his father. He felt no pleasure in seeing his father happy. His concern was for himself and the injustice he perceived he’d been dealt. He felt like a martyr and totally missed the blessing of celebrating with his father.
– It is possible to serve God year after year and yet have a heart that is far from Him. You might be one of the hardest workers in your church and yet be filled with bitterness because others do not share your load. You can become so preoccupied with your spiritual labors that when God works miracles in the lives of those around you, you cannot rejoice.
– If you serve the Lord out of pride, duty, or habit, but not out of love, joy, and gratitude, you will feel like a martyr. You will envy those who are experiencing joy in the Lord while you feel weighed down by the work you are doing. This is not the abundant life your Father has planned for you. Come to the celebration, spend time with the Father, and share in His joy! [Blackaby]
25. Luke 15:31, 32 – “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Eternal life is knowing Jesus, relationship with Jesus is our reward, both on earth and in Heaven. We should not desire anything else in life or envy the wicked who pursue other things. Our earthly joy should be both in knowing Jesus but also in helping others know Him too. We should not resent the sinner but hope that they would come to Jesus. Rejoice in the grace given to those who were once trapped in evil.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Aug 18: Luke 15 is all about God’s desire for His lost people to repent and return to Him through Jesus, reuniting with Him. Today, make your total desire knowing Jesus more and more and helping others do the same.