Monday, August 28, 2017

August 28: Job 28 – 30; Psalm 42; Proverbs 22:7; 2 Corinthians 2:12-17


            Job: Job continues to expound wisdom to his friends. He speaks of how the earth is formed with mineral and how men mine to get them. The earth produces both bread and jewels from the heat underneath it. Birds and other animals have not gone down like this cutting through rocks. Man also creates dams to stop streams.
            In all this, where is wisdom and understanding asks Job. Man doesn’t know it’s worth and can’t find it in this life. It isn’t in the sea, can’t be bought with any costly material things. It is hidden from all living things. Even death and destruction can only say they have heard of it.
            God know because he sees everything and has used it when he created. He has told man that the fear of the Lod is wisdom and turning from evil is understanding.
            Job laments for the time when God watched over him and he was God’s friend. He longs for the time when his children were alive and he had prosperity and people honored him. They honored him because they knew he was blessed because cared for widows and orphans, poor, blind needy, and fought for justice. He thought at that time it would all continue. When he acknowledged people, they felt blessed. He was like a chief and king among them.
            But now, they mock him. Men who were the lowest of the lowly, not even fit to be shepherds because of their feebleness have sons who mock him. They detest him since God has weakened him and made him helpless. They attack him and Job is terrified as he doesn’t have any dignity.
            Job’s life is giving way and his pains never ceases. God has bound him and thrown him in the mud. He cries to God but he doesn’t answer. God tosses him around as in a storm. He knows God will kill him. He complains that once a man is broken no one keeps on beating him, but he hoped for good and evil came. He has become worse with pain and disfigured with black and peeling skin.
            Psalm: David expresses his deep desire to know and be in God’s presence. He is down in the pits of depression again as he is taunted because God has apparently abandoned him. He asks why he is so depressed because he knows he will again praise God. But he remembers the Lord. The depression persists seemingly to the point of death. He knows that God’s love is with him during the day and night. But he still wonders why God has forsaken him because of the oppression of his enemies. He reminds himself one more time that his hope is in God.
            Proverbs: The rich rule over the poor because the poor have to borrow from them and that indebtedness becomes a source of slavery.
            2 Corinthians: Paul explains that when he was in Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, he left because he was upset when he didn’t find Titus. Even though the Lord had opened a door for him, he left to go to Macedonia.
            Paul then thanks God that he victoriously leads them through Jesus Christ as they spread the knowledge of Jesus like an aroma everywhere they go. For those who are being saved, it is the fragrance of life but to those who reject Jesus it is the fragrance of death. Who is adequate to do this? They do not preach Christ for profit like many, but with God’s authority and sincerely because God is watching.

What Stood Out

            Job: “Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
and I shall multiply my days as the sand’” (Job 29:18).      
            Psalm: “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise,
 a multitude keeping festival” (Ps 42:4).
            Proverbs: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Prov 22:7).
            2 Corinthians: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Cor 2:15 NLT).


            Job: As Job contemplates his situation, he admits that when he was healthy and wealthy, he thought it would never end until he became very old and died in his house. This should be a wakeup call for all of us. We generally think the same thing. It isn’t until we get very old that we start to realize we won’t live forever. Sometimes, when we are younger and an equally young friend or sibling dies unexpectedly, we will contemplate our eventual demise.
            It should be sobering to know that this day could be our last. It doesn’t matter how old we are. We should do as Moses said, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). Job was making his lament in the context of finding wisdom, which is to fear the Lord (Job 28:28). If we are numbering our days correctly and know each day could be our last one, then we should seek God daily. We should be having that kind of fear of him that leads us to living a godly life as we walk with him through our relationship with Jesus. That would be putting wisdom in to practice, which is understanding.
            Psalm: Sometimes we need to step back and remember the mountains when we are in the valleys. Job did some of that, but his remembering seemed like a lament for the good old days. It didn’t help him in the sense of remembering that God had been good to him but that he missed those days. David’s remembrance is in the joy of worshiping God with others. Our memories of what has happened in the past can be helpful and encouraging or it can be depressing. It all depends on where we have our focus. If we look back to see how much we have lost in the way of material things or even in our relationship with the Lord, then our attention is more on us than on the Lord. When we look back on the joy of worshiping the Lord and putting him first, then our focus is on him. When we recount his faithfulness and praise him for our salvation through Jesus, then our focus is on him. Remembering can be self-worship or worshiping God. When it is the latter it lifts us from depression. When it is the former, it will push us deeper into depression.
            Proverbs: I visited Pakistan in 2011. While I was there, I saw this proverb in action. I visited what is called a slave village. It is a few houses on a farm that is owned by a Muslim family. The people in the village are Christians who rent from the Muslim and work in his fields. The problem is that his rent is so high that they can’t make enough money to live unless they borrow from him. They are his slaves because he won’t pay them more and will not forgive their debt. When he says they have to work, they go to work. Their children don’t get an education because the parents can’t pay for the basic needs and the children have to work in the fields to help provide. Generation after generation is trapped in this economic slavery. Think about this the next time you want to borrow money. The lender does exert some control over you.
            2 Corinthians: Paul left Troas only because he was concerned about Titus, this distraction took him to Macedonia. He still believed that he was being led by God just like he was in a victory parade. The reactions of people to his life and the gospel was like the incense burned during these parades. To those who are perishing, the ones who reject Jesus, the gospel is like the smell of death. They are being led in procession but they are the ones who will end up in eternal death. The ones that are being saved are the victors and the incense is the smell of life because they are entering the kingdom of God.
            So it is with people of today. The ones who are perishing can’t stomach the gospel because it makes them decide if they want to submit to Jesus and follow him or keep on running their own lives the way they want. Because submitting to Jesus is odious to them, they will someday kneel in subjection to him, but it will be too late for their salvation. People who follow Jesus faithful remind them of this so we are like the incense of death to them. The ones who are being saved savor their calling to follow Jesus. They willingly submit to Jesus and enter his kingdom. People who are being saved will see this and be drawn to it like sweet smelling incense.


             It is important to consider death and what will happen afterwards. I don’t want to dwell on it, but I do want to be prepared to meet Jesus. I should be living each day as if this were my last one on earth. I want to be the incense of life or death to those who have not yet come to Jesus.

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