Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 22 August 18:
1. Job 33:6, 7 — “I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy upon you.” As described in chapter 32, Elihu speaks after Job’s three friends have finished speaking. Elihu was angry at Job for “justifying himself rather than God;” he was also angry with Job’s friends because they could not refute Job. Interestingly, while Elihu is speaking, the Lord cuts in and settles the matter (chapter 38). Furthermore, in Job 42 the Bible says that God was angry with Job’s three friends but apparently not with Elihu. So, it would seem that Elihu, unlike the three friends, spoke the truth. However, Elihu’s words generally sound the same as theirs. So, how was Elihu’s approach to Job different than that of Job’s three friends? It appears to me that, while Job’s friends sought to find a hidden sin in Job’s life to explain his suffering, Elihu focuses on the Holiness and Sovereignty of God. How could we possibly claim to understand the ways of God from our simple perspective? Will we reduce God to a simple disseminator of rewards and punishments based on our ideas of justice? Would we accuse God of injustice? Must God answer to us? God is not unjust and does no evil, but are we, mere mortals, in any position to question God or to judge His actions? Will brilliant men teach us something about God which God has not revealed? Can a man add to God’s word? Note that Elihu does not seek to find Job’s hidden sin but rather challenges him on the words he heard Job say, “I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.” Elihu could not explain Job’s pain (because Elihu is not God), but Elihu understood that God is God, Holy, Righteous, Loving, Merciful, Sovereign.
2. Job 33:14 – “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.” God speaks though people may not perceive it. God is spirit and speaks to us through the Spirit’s conviction as we read and apply His word, the Bible. God calls us to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh by remaining in His word and obeying His word. When you are walking with God, you will hear His voice through the Spirit’s counsel and conviction at the moment – what you do next is critical. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) The cause of silence is often spiritual deafness, but not always.
3. Job 34:9 – “For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.’” If you are serving God for profit, it is not for love. The unloving don’t follow God because they don’t see the profit in it. Love is a sacrifice of self for another inspired by the heart, not by a desire for a pay back.
4. Job 34:17 – “Shall one who hates justice govern?” The foundation, moral authority, and the legitimacy of government is justice. God is just and the source of all justice. There is no justice apart from Him. If a nation seeks justice apart from God, lawlessness follows. The ungodly and unjust are unfit for government, though God often allows the unjust to govern for a time for His purposes, to reveal the fallacy of man’s righteousness and the truth of His holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, mercy, and grace.
5. Job 34:31-33 — “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne punishment; I will not offend any more; teach me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more’? Will he then make repayment to suit you, because you reject it?” We have nothing to bring to the negotiating table with God, and there can be no greater arrogance than to think somehow God would negotiate on our terms or bargain with the mere mortal. Can we really say to God, “I will not offend anymore”? If God revealed your sin to you in a greater way, would you really never sin again? Has any of us mastered self? And if we had finally mastered self, would that be justification to free us from accepting responsibility for our past behavior? Proverbs ask, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9) Sometimes, as spoiled children, we might say to the Father, “That’s not fair!” But the last thing we want from the Father is what is fair or what we truly deserve – that would be eternal death. We must never lose sight of the fact that we operate under God’s unmeasurable mercy and grace. Often, we take this for granted, and our head knowledge of grace does not guide our hearts. Our perspective on grace affects everything.
6. Job 34:33 – “Will he then make repayment to suit you, because you reject it?” Many people ask for forgiveness, but continue in sin (not producing the fruit of repentance) and then expect God to reward them in their disobedience. Forgiveness begins with repentance and results in an obedient heart. Most Christians are too complacent in their obedience, presuming upon God’s grace.
7. Job 34:37 – “For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” We all sin and “miss the mark,” but is quite another matter to intentionally sin with full awareness of God’s commands and God’s G.R.A.C.E. — God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. While we may make light of rebellious sin, God doesn’t — “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
8. Proverbs 22:7 — “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Avoid all debt because God’s people should not be slaves to the world.
9. Proverbs 22:9, 16 – “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor…. Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” How many times does the Bible tell you to take care of the needy?
10. Proverbs 22:11 – “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” Gracious speech is the mark of a pure heart.
11. Proverbs 22:26 – “Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts.” Avoid getting entangled in commitments to the ungodly. Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
12. Luke 23:8, 9 – “When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.” Many seek Jesus selfishly for personal gain, but Jesus responds to the repentant and surrendered.
13. Luke 23:11 – “And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.” When Jesus refuses to speak with unrepentant sinners on their terms, they only end up hating Him and rejecting Him.
14. Luke 23:12 – “And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.” The ungodly may not agree on much, but they are united against Christ.
15. Luke 23:15 – “Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him.” Many see Jesus as harmless, no factor, and they fail to recognize their pending eternal judgement.
16. Luke 23:20-25 – “So Pilate decided….” A personal decision concerning Jesus cannot be avoided. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. The choice is yours; you cannot blame anyone else.
17. Luke 23:28-31 – “But turning to them Jesus said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children….” Being led to His horrible death, Jesus’ concern was for others.
18. Luke 23:34 – “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Jesus modeled forgiveness for us. How far does your forgiveness go?
19. Luke 23:34, 35 – “And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’” Your forgiveness should not depend on how others respond. Again, How far does your forgiveness go?
20. Luke 23:40-43 — “‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Things to consider: had the criminal been baptized? When did Jesus say the criminal would enter into paradise? Also, quickly turn to Psalm 22:12-18 and compare these verses to Luke’s account of the crucifixion. Also, re-read Isaiah 53 – Powerful!
21. Luke 23:43 – “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” One dying criminal went to heaven; one did not.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 Aug 18: Take up your cross today and follow Jesus by forgiving others who offend you, regardless what they did or how you think they will respond. Display the love of Christ and proclaim the Gospel to all around you. There is still hope for the other criminal. (Luke 23:34-43)