Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 27: Job 23 – 27; Psalm 41; Proverbs 22:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11


            Job: Job answers that he is burdened by his situation and if he knew where he could find God, he would present his case to him. He knows God would listen. Even though God is powerful he would still pay attention to him because he is upright and would be acquitted.
            Even though Job can’t find God, God knows all about him and his every move. He doesn’t change and will complete his plans for Job. That terrifies him.
            He also asks why God doesn’t judge the wicked and why do people who know him wait for it without seeing it. He then lists ways evil people act. He lists how the poor are oppressed and God doesn’t hold anyone accountable. He lists more deeds of wicked people and how they think God doesn’t see them.
            Job complains that his friends see this and say that their end will be swift. But they continue to do wrong and God prolongs their lives. He asks who can prove him wrong.
            Bildad responds that God is sovereign and due fear. He has uncountable armies. He is so pure that no man can appear to be righteous before him. Nothing in nature is pure before him much less man who is a maggot.
            Job replies that his answer is worthless and wonders what spirit helped him. He goes on to speak of death and that God knows all about it. Job then lists God’s power over all of nature from suspending earth in nothing to controlling the weather.
            Job returns to maintaining that God has not given him justice. Even in that, he will not speak falsely and say his accusing friends are right. When the wicked perish, God will not pay attention to them. Job says he will explain how God deals with the wicked as his friends have seen. Job then begins a long list of way that wicked people do not endure with riches, children, house, all swept away.
            Psalm: David extols the blessings of a person who takes care of the poor. The Lord takes care of him when he is ill. But David is ill and asks for help. He considers this may be because of his sins. His enemies and even his close friends are no help in this illness. Some are waiting for him to die and others are spreading gossip about him. But David knows that the Lord cares for him and will uphold him. He asserts his integrity and praises the God of Israel.
            Proverbs: Wicked people have a rough road with many ways to be snagged into more evil but a person who keeps watch over his soul avoids these. Teach your children what is right and they will follow it when they are old.
            2 Corinthians: Paul and his companions are proud of the fact that he and his companions have always conducted themselves in godly ways toward the Corinthians. They haven’t acted like the world. They have written plainly so they could understand without any hidden messages. When Jesus comes back he hopes the Corinthians will be proud of Paul and his companions as they will be proud of them.
            Paul wanted to visit and bless them twice, coming and going from Macedonia. He wasn’t being wishy-washy about his plans like sinful people when they say yes and no at the same time. No, just as God is faithful, he doesn’t vacillate. In Jesus, whom they preached, God’s promises are always yes and through Jesus they agreed with God to his glory. God has established them all together in Christ and sealed them with his spirit as a guarantee of the promises.
            So, Paul explains with God as his witness he didn’t come to Corinth to spare them not making the visit painful. If he came he would have been pained as well. He wanted to wait until they would have joy together. It was a difficult decision and he had tears when making it. Because of his love for them he didn’t want to cause more pain.
            Whoever caused the pain caused it not only to Paul but to all of them. The punishment for that one by the majority is enough. He urges them to forgive and comfort him so his sorrow will not be excessive. He had previously written to test their obedience to him in everything. If they forgive, then he also forgives them in the presence of Jesus so that Satan can’t cause any more problems with his schemes.

What Stood Out

            Job: “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7).
            Psalm: “And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad” (Ps 41:6).
            Proverbs: “Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them” (Prov 22:5).
            2 Corinthians: “For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you” (2 Cor 1:12).


            Job: In the midst of all this back and forth arguing between Job and his friends, Job says something about God that no one in the ancient Near East would have stated. He says that God has suspended the earth on nothing (Job 26:7). Other religion of the area and time and even Greek philosophers imagined the earth being held up by a beast or someone like Atlas. Yet people who do not read the Bible and those who simply want to tear down Christianity claim that Christians are anti-science because of their belief in the Bible. They don’t see that Job confirms astronomy facts.
            It is amazing to me that Job spoke the way he did long before anyone really understood astronomy. It goes to show that when God speaks, he doesn’t mislead us either in science or in moral issues. We can trust what we find in the Bible. It tells us how everything began and explains why we are in the condition we find ourselves. It explains that sin is the root of evil and our only solution has been provided in Jesus Christ. It speaks of eternity and what will happen to us all eventually. If it is accurate about the world, then our future is also accurately predicted, eternal life in Jesus or death in sin.
            Psalm: When David’s friends and enemies come to him and accuse him of wrong with empty words, he is in the same position as Job. Not only do they accuse him of wrong, but they go out and slander him. No, this isn’t a political election, this is life that happens to many people. Why do people commit slander or gossip? Why do we like to hear these things about others? I’ve always wondered why gossip is so easy to accept. I can listen to someone and even encourage them to tell me more. There is something in me that cause me to want to hear the worst about someone else. I know it is sin, but I didn’t understand why it is so appealing until I read what Jerry Bridges said about it in Respectable Sins. He says, “[Gossip] seems to feed our sinful ego … It makes us feel self-righteous by comparison” (p 171)., Of slander he says, “The motive behind slander is to gain an advantage in some way over another person” (p 172).
            It is obvious with Job’s friends that they wanted to feel self-righteous and that is my problem as well. David’s enemies wanted an advantage over David, to usurp him and take the kingdom. That is the issue with political campaigns. It is hard to stop a person telling gossip or slander especially if you don’t know it is slander. It is easier to stop if you are the one speaking it. The next time you hear or spread these bad reports, think about what it is feeding inside you. Does it make you feel better than the gossipee? If we recognize this, then it is easier to recognize it as a sin and stop it.
            Proverbs: The thorns and traps of temptations to sin are all around us. People who do not know the Lord don’t have his light and can’t see that temptations suck them into terrible traps and thorns that will eventually destroy them. When we know Jesus, and have him in our hearts, we can hide God’s word in our hearts and have his light on our paths (Ps 119:105). We also have the Holy Spirit in us to guide and guard our souls. We have the spiritual insight to see those thorns and snares and avoid them.
            2 Corinthians: It seem odd to see verses where Paul talks about boasting or being proud as other version say. We tend to shudder at this kind of thing because we don’t want to prideful individuals. We are told that pride is a deadly sin, and it is. The OxfordDictionaries begin the definition of proud as, “Feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions” (emphasis mine). The reason we label pride as such a horrific sin is because the focal point is in one’s own achievements. The dictionary goes on to say that the pride can be in someone else’s achievements. When those achievements are chalked up solely to a person, they are sinful. They are excluding God from the equation and displacing him with a person’s own abilities and power. That is idolatry of self or the other person. If the other person is my own progeny it even conveys the idea that somehow, I have been part of that accomplishment.
            That doesn’t mean we can’t rejoice in accomplishments of our own or others, but we must put it in the right perspective. Paul did that when he wrote to the Corinthians. He explained that his pride was in what God had done by his grace in them. If our child or grandchild accomplished something or just had a good day and we say we are proud of them, it could convey a message that they did it. If we say we are pleased to see the way God has worked in them to accomplish the same thing, we convey the message that God is working in them. God gets the credit but they also get to feel good that God is working in them.        


             I don’t want to fall into temptations and traps of sin. Pride is an easy one to have and it is easy to help others fall into it by the way we talk to them. With God’s word and Spirit as my guide, I can see those traps and avoid them.

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