Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 26 August 18:
1. Job 42:5 — “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” There is a big difference between knowing about God and truly knowing and experiencing God personally. An encounter with God drives you to repentance, humility, and surrender. Witnesses testify to what they have seen and experienced personally, not what they have been told about by others, which is only hearsay. Pray for and seek a more genuine, personal relationship with Jesus today. Job lived a very righteous life, but God put Job through great trials, primarily for God’s glory (which is our purpose), but also to draw Job closer to Himself in a real and personal way. If you are trusting in the Lord, He will reveal His character more and more to you through your trials. You will see, even if everyone else abandons you, the Lord will never leave you or forsake you. Your love and faith will only grow when God leads you through the dark times. This is the point of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” With this perspective, we can trust that all circumstances are ultimately used by God for His glory and our good, drawing us closer to Him in love. Through our trials, God is often accomplishing several things at once – revealing Himself to you in a greater way, revealing the truth of you to you in a much greater way, revealing Himself to others through His relationship with you, using you to accomplish specific things on this earth, and preparing you for greater things in the future. You are never just a hapless victim. Likely, we will not understand why God is allowing us to go through our trials. This is where faith (trusting God in the moment), hope (trusting God with the future) and love (being satisfied and fulfilled by Him alone as the essence, purpose, and goal of your life) come in.
– God may take you through hard times in order to tear down your idols, things that you rely on more than God, things you care about more than your relationship with God, things that define your life more than God. Even your righteousness can become an idol as it had for Peter and for Saul (Paul). God may need to show you that His love and faithfulness towards you does not depend on your love and faithfulness towards Him. He may need to show you that His strength and power is not dependent on your strength and power. He may need to takes things away in your life that you will see that He is the Life. He may need you to lose your way that you can see that He is the Way. He may need you to become disillusioned so that you can see that He is the Truth. He may need the bottom to come out from underneath you so that you can see that He is the Rock, the immovable foundation. In hard times, draw closer to Him, not further away.
2. Job 42:7 — “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right.” Job’s friends apparently spoke from God’s word, but they misapplied God’s word by judging Job for an assumed hidden sin, claiming to understand what God had not revealed to them. Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. All of Job’s friends had knowledge but not wisdom which can come only from right relationship with God. Wisdom comes only from God through the Holy Spirit’s counsel from God’s word. Pray for wisdom today.
3. Job 42:8 — “And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.” God forced Job’s friends to humble themselves before Job who they wrongly accused. Job in turn prayed for those who treated him inappropriately. Our goal is not to seek justice for ourselves but rather God’s mercy and grace for our offenders and their reconciliation with God through Jesus – we are to intercede for the wicked. Is that your heart, a heart that seeks reconciliation and peace with God for all? Pray for this sort of heart.
4. Proverbs 26:6-10 – “Whoever sends a message by the hand of a fool cuts off his own feet and drinks violence. Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool. Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools. Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” A fool given a message will either fail to deliver the message or will transmit the message in a way that was never intended, causing enmity rather than peace and healing. The Bible says, “God, through Christ, reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) We must be very careful not to be foolish messengers who fail to deliver the Gospel or who deliver the message in a way never intended by Jesus. We are responsible to God for not only what we say (or don’t say) but also how we say it. You cannot be a faithful ambassador for Christ if you are representing yourself in any way. It’s not about you.
5. Proverbs 26:11 – “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Sin is gross.
6. Proverbs 26:17 – “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” This proverb verse reminds me of an account of Jesus found in Luke 12: “Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” (Luke 12:12-15) Getting involved in quarrels can cause us and others to become distracted from the heart of the matter, the need for reconciliation with God through Jesus. Don’t cheapen the message of the Gospel by getting wrapped up in needless worries of the world.
7. Proverbs 26:23 – “Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.” Compare this verse with Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-27) You can say all the right things from the wrong heart and reap only woes. You may fool others, but you won’t fool God.
8. Proverbs 26:28 – “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Lying and flattery are extremely destructive and unloving, a disregard for the Greatest Commandment of love given to us by the Almighty.
9. Psalm 99:1 — “The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” When was the last time God’s Holy Sovereignty caused you to tremble and quake? In the Book of James, the Bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus and “shudder.” Many Christians do not even display a demon level of faith. Knowledge of Jesus should overwhelm you with His holiness and drive you to your knees in powerful worship – knowledge of Jesus is life changing and causes you to see everyone and everything completely differently. Pray for this level of knowledge of Jesus.
10. Job 99:4 — “The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”
– Today the Bible reminds us of what God loves – justice. This verse provides context to the remainder of Psalm 99 where God’s relationship with His servants is described: “They called to the Lord, and he answered them…. they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” (Psalm 99:7-9) They called to the Lord with humble and repentant hearts, and God answered them. But then it describes God’s expectation of obedience while His servants walked in grace. With forgiveness also came punishment, discipline because God is not only a merciful God, He remains a just God. The phrase “but an avenger of their wrongdoings” is translated in other versions as “though you punished their misdeeds.” Modern Christianity often describes a mercy/grace-only God who cares little about sin, which is downplayed as merely the natural human response to victimization or chemical imbalances – “God understands and doesn’t judge us for our sins,” they say. But the Bible calls sin, “sin” and says that God punishes His children for it, though in a merciful way. See for yourself if this message does not come through loud and clear in the Bible, though not so loudly in churches anymore. Just today we read that “the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’” And in Proverbs we read, “will he not repay man according to his work?” Of course some will argue that these are Old Testament verses and that they no longer apply to us, but the New Testament reconfirms time and time again that God still loves justice and punishes even His forgiven children for their transgressions, though not eternally — “But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world…. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it…. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 3:19) 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” This verse seems to apply that God’s love takes away all punishment, but you have to consider this verse in context to John’s whole message: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) To be “perfected in love” is to be perfectly obedient in love, a condition that removes any fear of punishment. Until that state, “do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.” Also, “do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof.” (Proverbs 3:11) The end of Psalm 99 gives us our most important reminder: “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” The main problem with the church in America today is that we have forgotten that, first and foremost, “God is holy!” We make light of sin because we make light of the holiness of God – His only attribute that is repeated three times in the Bible for highest emphasis – “Holy, Holy, Holy”! (Revelation 4:8) The only other word repeated three times in the Bible for emphasis is, “woe, woe, woe,” for those who don’t honor the holiness of God, repent, and put their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 8:13) To appeal to the world, we have downplayed the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man; as a result, complacency has crept into the church. When we make light of sin, which demands the wrath of God and eternal damnation, we marginalize the urgent demand for salvation through Jesus Christ. The Good News is good news in context to the bad news – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of this sin is eternal death.
– Imagine just one day on earth where there was no justice at all – it would be hell on earth. Christians, as preservative salt on earth who seek justice, not just by proclaiming God’s just position on every issue but primarily by bringing others to a relationship with Jesus where they can understand and appreciate justice as well as mercy and grace. The Bible says that justice comes only from God, not from men. The only hope for justice on earth is corporate repentance and revival.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 Aug 18: Pray for an ever-increasing and life-changing relationship with the person of Jesus for yourselves and for others. Seek as your top priority today to draw closer to Jesus and to draw others closer to Jesus. (See the notes above)