Friday, 30 September 2016

He did not sin with his lips

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. – Job 2.9-10

Job’s wife was amazed that he stuck with God and that his integrity was not swayed. Job lost everything but his God and his wife, and here his wife turns on him.

‘Are you still holding on to your silly integrity Job? Curse God and die!’

That must have been a hammer blow to Job. ‘I’ve lost everything and now my wife has turned on me.’

At this stage I think I may have just given up. There are many times when Mary has been the one person who has picked me up when I am down. She has been faithful and when my faith weakens or I start to doubt or fear or get anxious or down or depressed she is there to pick me up and set me back on track.

And yet, even with this setback, Job would not give up. We are going to be privileged to hear Job’s despair and innermost thoughts as he talks to his friends. He is going to ask God and his friends plenty of questions, but he doesn’t blame God for what happens.

In all this Job did not sin with his lips. That’s quite a statement when we read what James says about how the tongue is the one part of the body that no man can tame.

How do you and I do when adversity comes? Is our integrity shaken? Could it be said of us that we ‘did not sin with our lips’ even when things get desperate?

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Integrity

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” – Job 2.3

Job passed the first test with flying colours. He was indeed a man who feared God and hated evil. He would not blame God. Indeed he blessed God even in his trials.

So Satan came back to God and God asked Satan if he had seen the test. ‘Have you considered Job? He still holds fast to his integrity despite all the troubles he has faced.’

Integrity seems to be a vanishing trait.  Job was a man of principles. He could not be bought or sold or persuaded to turn from his principles by fear or pragmatism or offer of reward. ‘Everyone has their price’ some say – men of integrity like Job do not have a price.

How precious do we hold out integrity? Could we maintain it even through the trials of Job?

I want that kind of integrity in my life. I want to hold to it no matter what may come my way.

God, give me that kind of spirit.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Blessed be the name of the Lord

While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. – Job 1.18-22

When I was in speech class a LONG time ago I did a comic reading called ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’

It was all about a little boy who had the worst day possible. Everything went wrong and the day went from bad, to worse, to worst.

Well Alexander had nothing on the day that Job had. Satan had come to God and God had asked if Satan had heard about Job and his fear of God and hatred for sin. Satan told God that Job only did what he did because he had it made. So God allowed Satan to afflict Job.

Within a matter of minutes and after hearing from several messengers Job discovered that he had lost everything. His buildings, his crops, his livestock, and eventually even his family had been wiped out.

That would be enough to make anyone turn from God and doubt Him.

But Job could not be shaken.

‘The Lord gave and the Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’

Oh for that kind of heart. When bad news happens I fear that Job’s response is not my first response. His response proves the point that he ‘feared God.’ Job’s awe of God’s power allowed him to recognise that all the trouble he faced did not change the fact that God was still God. He didn’t have to ‘get it.’ He refused to blame God because he trusted God.


I doubt (hope) I never have a day like Job’s. May his response challenge me when my bad days come. 

Indeed, blessed be the name of the Lord. God is good, every day, all the time. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Job as a father

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. – Job 1.5

The things that Job did without the spiritual helps we have today amaze and challenge me every time I read them. He was truly the family patriarch. He knew that he was responsible for all the family’s needs.

He knew amongst other things that among his responsibilities was the spiritual needs of his family. After days of feasting and celebration Job sanctified his family, and every morning he got up early and offered sacrifices for them just in case they ‘sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’

Obviously that doesn’t sound a lot like what we imagine as godly fathering today, but the basic fact that he took responsibility for his family’s spiritual is a great challenge to me.

As time goes on this fatherly responsibility will be seen under the law as father’s are told to teach their children diligently. In the church age fathers are still instructed to bring their children up in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.’

I trust that Christian fathers today have the same kind of heart for their families today as Job did. I hope that we can all pray like he did for his family.

My children are all grown, but I still strive to pray for them daily. I have grandchildren for whom I could do nothing more important that to pray for them.

Please Lord, make me a Job-like father and grandfather.

Monday, 26 September 2016

There was a man

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. – Job 1.1

Job lived long before man had the law, or the Bible, our a local church, or any of those blessings that we have today. How can we expect someone who lived all that time ago to have any kind of relationship with God?

I don’t know it happened, apart from direction intervention of God, but here we find an example of a man from those early days of history who ‘feared God and shunned evil.’

That sounds so basic doesn’t it?

If indeed it is so basic, why do so many of us struggle with it today? Job had it right without the benefits of the thing mentioned above. He had no Bible to read. He had no pastor to preach. He had no church to fellowship with and encourage him. He had no Christian friends to edify him.

But he still knew enough to fear the awesome power of God and to turn away from evil.

We have all those things and all our theology and Bible teaching and outreach and all those good things we know and do, but we still can struggle with fearing God and shunning evil.

Actually the two go hand in hand. If we truly fear God for who He is we will shun evil. If we do not shun evil we have to question if we really fear God.

Fearing God and shunning is a good start for all of us.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

If I perish

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” – Esther 4.15-16

The courage of this woman Esther is astounding. Here she was, a young Jewish woman thrust into the role of the queen of Persia. She must have had mixed feelings. After all she was living in the palace in the lap of luxury. But, her people were being threatened by new laws. No one knew that she was a Jew and the law exterminating Jews would have resulted in her death if anyone found out.

She was the only one who could save her people. ‘Who knows if you are here for such a time as this?’

How did she reply? ‘Gather the Jews and have them fast and pray with us. Its against the law for me to go to the king like this. But, I go, and if I perish, I perish.’

What an example of courage and bravery and faith and reliance on prayer Esther was. She knew that she might be killed, but still she was ready to go for her people.

How many of us can honestly say that we have this kind of ‘if I perish’ attitude? That’s quite a question isn’t it? Can we honestly say that we hold our life so loosely that we can say ‘if I perish, I perish’ for the cause of Christ? Or, do we hold our lives so dear that we cannot honestly present ourselves to Christ for whatever He calls us to do?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

For such a time as this

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4.14

The book of Esther may be best know as the answer to the trivia question ‘what book of the Bible never mentions the name of God?’

Even though the book never mentions God’s name that doesn’t mean that the work of God is not seen in the book.

At this stage of the book we find Esther, a young Jewish woman, as queen of Persia. Persia was one of the more powerful kingdoms in the world at this time and Esther had come to be queen through an unusual set of circumstances.

A plot designed to wipe out the Jews had been uncovered and the king was on the verge of approving the plan. Esther’s uncle became privy to the plan. He knew that Esther was in the place to do something about it so he approached her about approaching the king.

Esther’s uncle asked her one of great questions of all time. ‘Who knows if you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’

That classic question is one that we all need to keep in mind. We may find ourselves in situations where we don’t know what to do. We may wonder why we are where we are, how we got there, what we are supposed to do about it.

The question put to Esther is one we always need to ask ourselves in those situations. Who knows if God put us in this situation ‘for such a time as this?’ Who knows what great work might accomplished because God has allowed us to be where we are and when we are?

If we are willing to follow God and obey Him who knows that God might do in such a time as this?