Monday, 31 January 2011

When he prayed for his friends

And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. - Job 42v10

I can’t claim that I really understand how this works out, but I just really like this little incident at the end of the Job account. There is something there, even if I don’t ‘get it’ yet.

Here’s the story. God was dealing with more than just Job. After Job repented God turned his attention to Job’s friends, minus Elihu. He told them that they had been wrong in the their assessment of the situation. God told them to set things right they needed to go and offer a sacrifice, which they did.

Everyone was sorted. I think it is wonderful to note that God did not say that Elihu had done wrong. Elihu was a godly friend who gave Job wise counsel. Thank God for all friends, but especially when they are in tune with God and His wor enough to offer us wise godly counsel.

And then I like this - ‘The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.’ I don’t know if that was just the natural conclusion of the matter or if God would not have restored Job’s losses if he had not prayed for his friends.

I think there is something we can glean no matter what. God wants us to pray for our friends. Despite their miserable attempts at comfort Job’s friends were still his friends. They may have not done it right, but they were there for him.

So Job prayed for his friends. It is kind of like this was the last piece in the puzzle. No it was all sorted. Now we can watch God work.

I wonder if we are missing some of God’s blessings when we fail to pray for our friends?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Therefore I repent

Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes." - Job 42v6

There are so many things to appreciate about Job. We are fortunate that we get to meet the man of God who lived long before bibles and churches and organisations and resources and all that we take for granted.

As we do that we learn a lot. The one thing that has struck me this time through is the truth of the old adage ‘the more things change the more they stay the same.’ Job had the same problems and same issues as we did long before we had all of the modern distractions that we can blame for our sins and faults.

Job knew that there was no sense in fighting or rebelling or excusing or blaming or rationalising. He knew that there was one person to blame for his sin – Job – numero uno.

‘As a result of what I have now seen about me and God and my circumstances and my response I am disgusted with myself and I repent.

How much better off we would be if we would just give up all the pretences and repent. There is no one else I can blame when I sin. It is not the fault of television or the internet. It is not the fault of a wicked generation. It is not the fault of some other person. When I sin it is my fault.

Therefore my only response should be the same as Job. ‘I am disgusted with myself and I repent.’

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Now I really know

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. – Job 42v5

I really, really like this verse. It has become one of my favourites (of course, if we can have favourite verses, but you get my drift). Before Job’s trials Job knew all about God. He had heard about Him and had a basic faith in Him. He knew God was there. But now, after all the trials and before God brings it to a resolution, Job says –‘Now I have seen you with my eyes.’

I feel this way about the book of Job itself and the revelation of God that comes with it. For a good part of my life, maybe until about 10 years ago I knew all about the Lord and how He would carry us through trials. I have loved and counselled and dealt with and cried with friends who went through time like this. I knew the truth – with my head. I had heard all about it and I knew how to relate the facts.

And then things changed. A series of Jobish trials came our way. Of course I do not mean to make light of the extent of Job’s trials, ours were nothing like that. But we have had a series of life altering trials.

It is through these series of trials however that God allows us to REALLY know Him. We no longer have to depend on hearing about God’s workings from the testimony of others. Now we have seen Him work with our eyes and we can really know that He is who he says he is.

There is something here that I don’t want to gloss over. Note that God had not actually seen God do anything about his personal circumstances. Job made this statement by faith. He did not know that God was going to sort things out for him. He just knew that God was God and that God knew best.

I think that is the goal of our faith – to see God and know Him and trust that He knows and does what it best.

Friday, 28 January 2011

I didn’t have a clue

You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. – Job 42v3

I love my grandchildren. There are all special and they all have their own wonderful personalities. Morgann, our oldest, is seven. I don’t know where she got it, but she is one of those amazing children who is very much in charge and who knows the solution that comes up. She is a problem solver and often beats adults to the punch when coming up with an answer.

There is only one problem. She is seven, with all of the experience and life skills that come with being a seven year old. As well intentioned as she is, she doesn’t always know all of the ramifications of her solutions.

We often are like Morgann. We see a problem and we think we know the answer. Job certainly did and his friends were no better. Behind the scenes there were great things going on that Job did not understand. They were far too wonderful for him to grasp.

So Job replied the only way he could – ‘I didn’t know what I was talking about.’

I wish I could grasp this in the middle of a problem instead of afterwards. I am one of those who can, if I am not careful, speak without thinking. I get myself in trouble that way.

Oh that I could only see beyond the circumstances to the One who is behind it all. If I could train myself to look into His loving eyes instead of the struggles in between it would make my life so much simpler.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Then you can save yourself

Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor, and array yourself with glory and beauty. …Then I will also confess to you That your own right hand can save you. - Job 40v10-14

God told Job exactly how he could save himself by his own strength, knowledge and ability. Job could adorn himself with glory and beauty and have the power to save himself as soon as he could explain all of the aspects of creation that God describe.

When Job could override God’s judgements, condemn God by Job’s righteousness, have the strength of God, speak through thunder, and control all of mankind he could then, and only then, clothe himself in majesty and splendour and glory and beauty. Then, and only then, would he have the power to save himself.

I enjoy the study of the next question. Just in case Job did not get it yet, God challenges him to consider behemoth and leviathan. I am no zoologist, but when I read about these creatures I don’t see anything like them alive today. These were some type of amazing creatures. I am one of those who suspects that these creatures were dinosaurs. God spends forty-three verses describing their strength. It appears that man could not do much about them. There were the mightiest of God’s creation.

But that is the point. As strong and powerful as they were, they were still God’s creation. If creatures could have pride, these two could claim it. At the end of chapter 41 God makes the application – ‘leviathan is a king over all the children of pride.’

Job thought he had to have an answer to all of his problems so that he could sort them out. Job was not even as strong as behemoth and leviathan and they had no strength compared to God.

When we think we have a better answer than God in regard to our lives let’s consider behemoth and leviathan. Compared to God they are powerless. Compared to them we are powerless.

How can we think that we can do a better Job of dealing with our circumstances than God can?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Shut my mouth

"Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further." Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: - Job 40v4-6

‘Well shut my mouth’ is a little bit of stereotypical American southern slang. It is used when something happens that is so amazing that we don’t have a response. It is similar to saying I am gobsmacked!’ These are terms that refer to we use when we are shocked, astonished, or stunned.

Although this is not exactly what happened to Job, I think it gives us a sense of how he must have felt when God finished His discourse.

As I read through God’s dialogue I cannot imagine any other response. I feel the same way myself.

I am vile.

How can I answer You?

I will put my hand over my mouth.

I have said far too much.

I am not going to say anything more.

In other words ‘shut my mouth.’

I think this passage should be required reading whenever we start to think that we know better or we wonder what God is doing.

How would I answer questions like Job was asked?

One way and one way only I think – ‘Shut my mouth!’

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Questioned by God

Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. – Job 38v3

So God answered Job. What a momentous event.

So what happens next? God answered Job in a way that teachers often answer students. God answered Job’s questions with a question. Actually he answered Job with a whole series of questions. Here is just a sampling of the questions.

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, - Job 38v4-6

God goes on this inquisition for almost two chapters. ‘Where we you Job when I created the world? Do you understand how the water cycle works? Did you give the animals their strength? Do you understand life and death? Do you know how the weather patterns are crafted? Did you design the constellations?

And so it goes.

I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be in Job’s sandals while this was going on. He knew that he had gone too far.

God ended His discourse with one more question.

"Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it."

If we are going to try to correct God or think that we have a better way than He does we need to be sure that we are willing to ask ourselves the same questions that God asked Job.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Then the Lord answered Job

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: - Job 38v1

This simple statement is profound. I once read a book by a noted Christian auther who said that this should be printed like this.


His reasoning was that this was so important that it should not escape us.

Why is this statement so important?

I think we can understand if we try to see it in a situation that we might grasp.

I enjoy a good discussion. I enjoy a good debate. I might even enjoy some good intellectual sparring at times.
But sometimes I get in a situation where I just stop responding. Sometimes the person you having a discussion with is just not worth the trouble. Sometimes you know that you are just wasting your time carrying it on any farther. As was once said ‘You cannot win in argument with an ignorant man,’ so sometimes you just don’t bother answering anymore.

When we look at this picture we see the picture of the all-powerful, eternal, and all-knowing God condescending to answer the questions of a mere mortal whose knowledge and perception are limited by his own tiny bubble of time and space.

Why would God even bother answering the man who was questioning Him? Why bother? Surely when compared to God Job was indeed an ignorant man.

Why? Because God loves us. He interacts with us because He cares. He took the time (I realise that He is not bound by time, but we get the point) to deal with Job because Job mattered to God.

God wanted Job to see the bigger picture. He wanted Job to see that it was not about him.

So far the whole book had been ‘He said this and he said that and he answered this and Job continued...’
But now God speaks and as Lucado puts it ‘Faces turns to the sky. Winds bend the trees. Neighbours plunge into storm shelters Cats scurry up the trees and dogs duck into the bushes.’ (From ‘The Great House of God’)

God condescends to speak to man. This is well worth our attention.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The wondrous works

"Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. – Job 37v14

Elihu was intent on refocusing Job’s thoughts. He wanted to turn job from the temporal back to the eternal. Part of the reason for Job’s despair is that he was looking in the wrong place. He was looking at himself instead of to the Lord. He had set his affection on earthly things instead of setting his affection on those things which are above. He was seeking all the things that moths eat and that rust consumes instead of looking at eternal treasures.

So Elihu called him up on it. He did not join those who would rail against Job and he did not join Job in his pity party.

‘Listen to this Job. Stop and think about all the wonderful things that God has done.’

In a kind of preview to God’s own response to Job, Elihu began to list some of God’s works.

‘Do you understand how the weather works Job? Do you understand how your clothes get warm in the sunshine? Do you understand how the skies are laid out?’

The Elihu drove the point home.

‘God appears in awesome majesty. He is more than we can comprehend! His power is perfect. His judgement is always just.’

Job was not alone. We all have times when we need to be reminded of the wondrous works of our God. When we see His great works we can rest assured that even in our darkest hour He is working wondrously and justly.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

We don’t know

"Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist, Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, The thunder from His canopy? – Job 36v26-29

Elihu does a great job here of condensing a couple of basic truth that really can give us a proper perspective.

Unfortunately, I am the kind of person who really wants to know everything that is going on all around me. I do not like being left out of the loop. Not only do I want to know what is going on, I also want to know why what is going on is going on. If things are not going smoothly I am pretty sure that, given the opportunity, I could sort things out. Just put me in charge of the world economy. I am pretty sure that I could fix it!

It’s one thing to have that attitude when talking about human circumstances. It is quite another when we think that we could do a better job than God.

God is great and we cannot hope to know what He is doing. As high as the heavens are above the earth so are God’s thought than our thoughts. Elihu sets off here on a whole list of things that take place that we cannot figure out. We can’t figure out how to make rain for example. We may figure out how to adapt the right circumstances to make it rain, but we certainly can’t create it.

That being the case what makes us think that we can figure out what God is doing in our lives?

God is great. We are not.

How can ungreat beings every hope to out think a great God?

God is great. Because of His greatness sometimes we are not going to be able to figure Him out.

Isn’t that what faith is all about?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Who teaches like Him?

"Behold, God is exalted by His power; Who teaches like Him? Who has assigned Him His way, Or who has said, 'You have done wrong'? - Job 36v22-23

When I was in seminary I had to do a paper on ‘Christ the Master Teacher.’ The only resource we were permitted to use was our Bible. We had to study the life of Christ and determine His teaching methods and His interaction as a teacher. We know that one of his primary titles while on earth was Teacher.

Most people have a high regard for teachers. When Mary was teaching in primary school she often heard tales where her children would correct their parents with, ‘Well, Mrs Parrow said…’

While I can’t condone cheeky children, this does point out how important the role of teacher is. The New Testament challenges us to be careful about being teaches, because teachers must give account of their teaching.

Here Elihu points to God as the ultimate teacher. ‘God is exalted by His power. Who can teach like Him? Who can tell God what to and where to go? Who can tell God ‘You have messed up here?’

Most of us would never say this out loud, or even think it in so many words. However, what are we saying when we doubt God’s work and wisdom in our lives by bemoaning our condition or circumstances? Are we not, in essence, saying we know better than Him and trying to teach Him how He should act.

Talk about cheekiness!

Who are to try and teach God? He shows His glory by His marvellous works. We can’t tell Him what to do and we can’t tell Him that He has made a mistake.

While we may not understand everything let’s be sure that we end up trusting in the One who is exalted by His power!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Wait for Him

Although you say you do not see Him, Yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him. – Job 35v14

‘Wait on the Lord, be of good strength, wait, I say, on the Lord.’

‘They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.’

‘It is good for a young man to bear his afflictions and to learn to wait on the Lord.’

‘Be joyful when you face various trials because when your faith is tried it produces patience and patience brings maturity when it is allowed to work.’

We could go on and on with passages like this. The word of God is replete with them. Waiting on God is good for us. I, for one, never like to wait. I like immediate gratification. I want what I want and I want it now.

Our world today has contributed to instant gratification and instant knowledge. If we wanted to find out some information we used to have to look in a book and if we didn’t have the book we have to go to the library to find out the answer. Then, for a few years we had to get to a computer, go online with that lovely old sound of computer connecting with phone line, and muddle through the internet to find an answer.

Now we whip out our phones and google it - instant answers to all our questions.

I love it. I really do. My wife says the only reason I wanted a smart phone was so that I could fact check by googling it! We no longer have to wait to find out the answer.

Sometimes I wish I had a spiritual Google. Wouldn’t it be great if we could whip out our phones and find out why we are going through a battle? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just know right here and right now?

Humanly speaking we might think that, but God knows better. I am not so sure that google answers are great for us. I think it may be making us intellectually lazy. We don’t have to know anything now; we can just look it up. We may be carrying our brains in our pockets. I am not sure that is a good thing.

God knows that the only way to really learn and grow is by experience. That’s why it is a good thing to bear our afflictions and learn to wait. Waiting builds us and strengthens us for the battles to come.

Isn’t it interesting to note that in the first Bible book recorded Elihu was wise enough to know this truth? ‘You say you can’t see God Job? Just remember this – God is just and you have to wait for Him.’

That kind of settles it doesn’t it. I don’t always get it. I may not see God at work. But, He is just. Sometimes I just have to wait on Him.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

We are all the work of His hands

Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands. In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; The people are shaken and pass away; The mighty are taken away without a hand. - Job 34v19-20

Elihu was a pretty sharp guy. Here he continues his discourse as he tries to turn the discussion back to the character of God and off of the earthly circumstances. While Job and the other three friends were trying to figure it all out, Elihu tried to remind them of who God was.

Here Elihu points out the great truth that God is totally impartial. He is not capricious and He does not play favourites. While it is not covered here, since this was pre-Israel and pre-church, God does have a people of His own. That is the only difference. Those who want to come to God are all the same. He doesn’t only allow the rich or important into His kingdom. It is open to everyone for He made them all. They are all going to one day suffer the same fate.

Much later James wrote to the church not to treat people differently when they came to church. He condemned judging people for the way they are dressed when they came to a service.

All men are equal in God’s sight. They are either part of the family of God or they are a part of Satan’s family. There is no difference between prince and pauper.

Praise God that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Far be it from God to do wickedness

"Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. – Job 34v10

Elihu had wisdom beyond his years. While Job’s friends were on to Job about some supposed sin he had committed and Job was seeking to define his own self-righteousness Elihu saw the while situation from a different perspective.

Elihu seemed to know that there was more was going on than meets the eye. Job was saying that he was righteous and that God was still allowing him to suffer. The logical conclusion is that God is wicked, because what kind of righteous God would punish man for doing right? We know that Job was a godly man because God said so. He was a man who feared God and shunned evil. So what kind of righteous God would punish him for his behaviour?

That is the point. Job’s struggles had nothing to do with his behaviour. This was not what it was all about. Later on God is going to explain the same thing. God is not going to act wickedly or commit sin, so something else is going on here.

While we may be is despair and cry out to God we go too far when we try to base God’s actions on our righteousness. God cannot sin. He is not going to do unjustly. If we can’t figure it out that does not mean that He is doing wrong.

Monday, 17 January 2011

You are not righteous

You are not righteous

"Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, For God is greater than man. Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words. - Job 33v1-2

So far the story of Job has been a tale of a Job’s deep abiding faith in God. The theme of raw faith pops up over and over. But it is also the story of a real man facing real problems. It is a story of his friends trying to figure out what Job is doing wrong and of Job relating his own righteous behaviour. They are going around in circles and getting nowhere.

Finally the young man Elihu speaks out. He seems to have an understanding that the others don’t.

The problem is that these guys were trying to figure God out by their standards. ‘In this debate you are not righteous,’ Elihu says, ‘God is greater than man. Why are you contending with Him? He doesn’t have to answer you!’

Job may have been God’s pride and joy. He may have feared God and shunned evil. But in all of that he could not claim to be righteous because he was arguing with God. A truly righteous man may not understand all that God is doing and he may ask God what is going on, but he cannot accuse God of being unjust. Job’s friends had been telling him that he must have done something wrong. Job went through his life and could not find anything, They are forgot that God was working and He is not accountable to man.

Praying and asking for wisdom in trials is one thing. Trying to figure God out is quite another.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Respect your elders, but…

I said, 'Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.' But. .. Great men are not always wise, Nor do the aged always understand justice. – Job 32v7-9

We have yet to hear from Job’s friend Elihu. Though he was there all along Elihu had not spoken because he was a young men and he knew the importance of showing proper respect to his elders. ‘Respect your elders’ is not just a trite convenient saying for old people to use the keep young whippersnappers in line. It is a principle of scripture that runs throughout the word of God.

So far he had listened to the other friends accuse Job of sin and say that God was punishing him for it. He had listened to Job defend himself and tell every how righteous he was.

Finally he realised that he had to say something. He told the men that he had kept quiet because he was young. He is going to address the issue, but first I think we need to pay attention to what he said in the passage recorded above.

‘Age should teach wisdom,’ he said, ‘but great men are not always wise and aged men do not always understand justice.’

In other words, age is no guarantee of wisdom.

There are a couple of lessons here. First, those of us who are getting on in years need to realise that our age does not give us a free ride or an assurance that we are always right. Our years of experience are no replacement for the truths of God’s word.

For the younger there is also a lesson. Respect your elders. Be very careful of making accusations against them. But keep your Bible close to hand no matter who is speaking.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Covenant eyes

"I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? -Job 31v1

One thing we have to admit about Job is that he was thorough in his self-examination. He may not have got it all right, but he did look at areas of his life.

Job 31v1 is a verse that any man can identify with. It involves what one writer has called ‘Every Man’s Battle.’ It is an issue that Jesus addressed when He expanded the definition of adultery by saying ‘if a man looks on a woman with lust in his heart he was already committed adultery.

Every man I have known and talked to about this topic has the same problem. As sexual beings we have sexual desires. God’s plan is that those desires be focused in one direction, in the spouse He gives us for life. It is never God’s will that man’s eyes wander. Some would say that a wife’s behaviour gives man’s eyes a cause to wander. But look at Job, his wife told him to curse God and die. Yet he still tells us ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes. Why then should I look on a young woman?’

There is an internet accountability called ‘Covenant Eyes.’ The name of course is based in this passage. Covenants are basically promises and commitments. Job did not have internet or television or whatever, but he still was aware of the dangers and reality of his wandering eyes.

So Job made a commitment concerning his eyes. He would not look on a woman in a lustful manner.

Men, we all know that is a tough commitment. Our eyes are drawn to women. The right response is to hold our own eyes to the covenant that Job made. He can’t afford that lingering look. It always leads to more if left unchecked.

Do we have the same commitment that Job had? Are we willing to make that commitment?

Friday, 14 January 2011

The good old days

"Oh, that I were as in months past, As in the days when God watched over me; When His lamp shone upon my head, And when by His light I walked through darkness; Just as I was in the days of my prime, When the friendly counsel of God was over my tent; When the Almighty was yet with me, When my children were around me; When my steps were bathed with cream, And the rock poured out rivers of oil for me! - Job 29v2-6

To start with I have to admit that I stole this title. A college friend is also going through Job and posting his thoughts on Facebook where I saw this title last week. So anyway, thanks Jim!

In chapter 29 we find Job lamenting the ‘good old days.’ Back then He sensed God walking with him and walked in God’s light. His children were gathered all around them. It was all peaches and cream. He goes on like that for most of the chapter.

Oh for the good old days. This sense of nostalgia is one we can all identify with. These nostalgic feelings tend to especially affect us when things are difficult. When things get bad we can long for the good old days when everything was okay.

There is nothing wrong with looking back on days when God’s blessings were obvious to us. If we handle it right we can be comforted that God is there, He has blessed in the past, and He is perfectly capable of doing it again.

However, the problem comes when we ling for those days to the extent that we get discouraged at the present. That is where Job is at the moment. He is asking himself why it can’t be like it used to be in the old days.

This is when it gets dangerous. This is when we can begin to question God. If we don’t control these thoughts they can go from question to doubting God. Doubting God is, in essence, saying that we are wiser than He is.

Enjoy the encouragement of looking back at former blessings. But don’t get caught in the trap of looking back instead of forward.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Digging for wisdom

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living…And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.' - Job 28v12-13, 28

This chapter begins with a wonderful picture of the depths people go to in order to mine precious metals – ‘Surely there is a mine for silver, And a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, And copper is smelted from ore. Man puts an end to darkness, And searches every recess For ore in the darkness and the shadow of death. He breaks open a shaft away from people; In places forgotten by feet They hang far away from men; They swing to and fro.’

When I read this I am reminded of a group of people called ‘The ‘49ers.’ When gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848 word got out quickly. Suddenly it seemed that everyone wanted to go to California. Nearly 100,000 people moved there in 1848-1849. San Francisco was a sleepy hamlet of 800 in 1848. A year later the population was 80,000. Since most of this activity took place in 1849, these people are referred to as ‘the 49ers.’

These folks were crazy for gold. The gold rush obsessed them. They came by every means available. It took some up to nine month to get there. The whole world was affected. Many came from Europe and Asia to get their precious gold.

Once they got there the work was hard, but they had to get their gold so they did it. Most failed in their quest to find gold, but many made fortunes provided goods and services for the gold seekers.

The 49ers are a clear illustration of man’s desire for precious minerals. Man will do anything and sacrifice anything in his pursuit of them.

But what about wisdom? What will man do to find wisdom? Man does not know the value of wisdom. He does not pursue it with the same kind of intensity that he does gold and silver.

True wisdom is found in knowing God and standing in awe of Him. It is found in reverential fear of offending Him. Understanding is found in departing from evil. We know that we find the source of true wisdom in His word.

I have to ask myself if I pursue true wisdom with the same intensity that the 49ers pursued the California gold. Am I willing to sacrifice it all in order to dig out godly wisdom?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Holding on to righteousness

My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live. – Job 27v6

I know that when I am going through tough times I can often struggle with my spiritual life. This can happen when I am physically or emotionally weak. I find at those times that if I am not careful my physical or emotional strength can greatly affect my spiritual well-being.

Job’s friends were trying to help him figure out what was wrong. They implied that part of the reason might be that he was slipping up in his walk with the Lord. They thought that these kinds of things would not be happening unless Job was doing something wrong.

But Job had already examined his life. ‘My lips will not speak unrighteousness. I will not forsake my integrity. I will cling on to my righteousness.’

It appears that Job had already determined that no matter what happened or God allowed to come across his path he would not be dissuaded from serving God. He would not sacrifice his righteousness. He would not turn.

I think we all need that kind of determination before the tough times come. When I am emotionally or physically weary I can take the attitude of ‘what difference does it make?’ At those times I can find myself in spiritual weakness and I can get wander from my fellowship with the Lord. It is at those times that I can give into the flesh and forget about walking after the spirit.

‘My righteousness I WILL hold fast. I will not let it go!’

Oh for that kind of determination in challenging times!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

He is unique

"But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such things are with Him. Therefore I am terrified at His presence; When I consider this, I am afraid of Him. – Job 23v13-15

Like Job, sometimes we just don’t get it. Like Job I just can’t figure out what God is doing or what He allows to go on.

In times like this there are a couple of things I can do.

I can despair and just give up on God.

I can decide to trust God no matter what I do or don’t understand.

Job chose the latter and if I have any sense I will do the same. God is unique. Nobody can change Him. He does His will and He does what is allotted to me.

To be honest that sounds a little fatalistic, but Job did not apply it that way. He simply knew that this is the way it was, and chose to stand in a holy awe of God.

Job’s choice is really the only practical one. His ways and His thoughts and His plans are far above ours. God is love and He loves His people. When we look at things like this we have to acknowledge that no matter what we perceive God loves us and is working out what is best in the scope of eternity.

Sometimes we just have to trust Him.

Monday, 10 January 2011

More important than my food

I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. – Job 23v12

I love to eat. I wish it were not so, but I do love to eat. I can even get selfish when it comes to food. It is a battle that I constantly have to fight. I always want that extra pork chop or those last few chips or that last slice of apple pie. I have learned in the last year or two to control that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still treasure that extra food which is far and above what is necessary for my daily living.

I don’t think I have ever been truly hungry to the point that I had to eat or die. While fasting I have thought I was really hungry and all I wanted was to make a sandwich or something to satiate my hunger. That desire is very real and controlling and it is those times that I use to remind me to pray for whatever matter we are fasting over.

And then I read about Job and his attitude toward the word of God. As part of Job’s retrenching of his faith he claims that he treasured God’s words more than even his necessary food. Notice, he does not treasure God’s word more than that extra pork chop, but more than the food he needs to even survive.

I am challenged by that. I don’t think I would ever let a day go by without prioritising a meal, but there are days when I have to ‘make myself’ spend time in God’s word. Now, while I am always glad that I did, I am afraid that I don’t always have the same desire to spend time in God’s word as I do to spend time over the dinner plate.

How often do we treasure God’s word more than our daily bread?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

As gold

But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23v10

Many years ago Mary and I were with a good friend who lived in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Birmingham is a major steel refining city and that night we saw the process close up. Our friend was supposed to know the area and get us back to her mother’s house after a seminar. After a series of ‘turn left here’ and ‘turn right here’ and go straight here’ we found ourselves temporarily dislocated in the metal of the refining district. Through the massive gaping doors we could see the molten steel being poured from vat to vat as a part of the refining process that would eliminate all the impurities so that the finished process would finally produce steel. This purified and processed steel would be the strength that would support bridges and skyscrapers and all sorts of long lasting buildings.

Though Job knew nothing about steel processing he did know about gold. He knew that for gold to be worth something it had to have all the impurities removed. All of the other metals and rocks and stones and dross had to be processed out of the gold to make it pure. That purification process requires the gold to be heated up until it became liquid and the dross could be scrapped off the top. Chances are, with all of his wealth, Job knew well what it was like to process gold.

Job also knew a spiritual lesson. He knew that for us to be purified and fit for the Master’s use we have to have all of dross burned of. Jesus talks about the ‘wood, hay, and stubble’ that we put our confidence in far too often. It is obvious that for us to be effective servants we can;t carry all of that rubbish with us.

Job had a confidence that is of great comfort and conviction to me. ‘When I have been tried and purified,’ Job said, ‘I will come forth like gold.’

Ron Hamilton keyed into this truth after suddenly having an eye removed due to cancer. He wrote a beautiful song called ‘Rejoice in the Lord.’ The lyrics below really say it all.

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.

I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Saviour instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.

Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried
And purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

But He knows

"Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. – Job 23v8-10

Two Bible writers had two different views of God, but they came to the same conclusion about Him.

In Psalm 139 the psalmist wrote – ‘O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.’

Compare that to what Job wrote in the passage above. Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way that I take.

The psalmist saw God everywhere. Job saw Him nowhere. Yet both of them had a firm confidence that God knew what was going on. Both had the faith to know that God was always there for them.

I see here the importance of what I once heard called raw faith. There are times in our lives when we sense God’s presence all around us. We see Him in everything. The day seems bright, there is a song in our hearts, and we can almost sense God like He was right there in the room with us.

Then there are times when it seems like we just can’t see Him. We don’t understand why things go the way they go. It can even seem like God might have forgotten about us and our little corner of the world.

Seeing God and knowing that He knows is easy in the first case. It is not so easy in the second.

It is those difficult times that are the real test of our faith. Do we have the raw faith to say, ‘God knows the way that I take’ when the way we take is difficult?

God knows when things are going well. God knows when things seem to be going badly.

Do we have the raw faith to trust Him in both situations?

Friday, 7 January 2011

Like his own refuse

That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment? Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, And his head reaches to the clouds, Yet he will perish forever like his own refuse; Those who have seen him will say, 'Where is he?' – Job 20v5-7

Not everything Job’s miserable comforters said was wrong. Sometimes, like Zophar here, they just misapplied truth.

Zophar makes an excellent statement here, though he was implying that maybe this is why Job was going through his struggles. Remember where Job was when he started. He was super wealthy. He was well placed. He had it made.

Zophar says that the triumphing of the wocked is short. His joy is only fleeting. Though he may think he is living on the mountaintop with all of his heady dreams, one day he and all of that is going to perish like his own refuse. One day he will be cast off like human refuse.

While Zophar had the target of his accusation wrong, his statement is true. All of the honour and privilege and prestige that man achieves on earth is meaningless. Without faith in Christ it is all going to be a waste.

Paul applied this truth to doing good in order to please God. After a long list of all that he had done, he says that all of that is no better than human waste when it comes to pleasing God.

So where is our focus? Everything we see around us, including all the earthly honours we receive, are no better than what we flush down the toilet.

Do we really want to build our lives around that?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

My heart yearns

Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! – Job 19v27

As humans we have all kinds of things that we yearn for. We yearn for good health. We yearn for good food. When I get up in the morning I yearn for a cup of tea. I yearn to spend time with my family. I yearn for good health for myself and for my family. Sadly, when I am following my flesh, I can also yearn for sinful things.

One of the great yearnings is to be with family and friends. I love their company. I miss them when I am away. We now have two children who live a distance away from us. We have a grandson who will grow up away from us. Chances are there will be more grandchildren who are not going to be close by. While that is the reality of life, it also makes me sad. I love to be with them.

In the previous verse Job had expressed confidence in his coming Redeemer. He knew that he was going to his Redeemer one day. Now he expresses his longing to see His God.

I miss my kids who are away. I miss my grandson Kian in Germany. Beth has been gone for years, but I still yearn to see her and Ronnie. Zeke is only gone a few days and I miss and long to see him,

Now what happens when I think of that kind of yearning and apply it to see my Saviour? Do I have that same kind of ‘gut yearning’ to see Him?

I like the spirit of the great old gospel song – ‘What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon his face, the one who saved me by grace…’

Indeed, what a day that will be!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

I shall see God

"Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, - Job 19v23-26

One of the great topics of discussion deals with how people were saved in the Old Testament. I had never seen this passage in this light until an internet friend mentioned it online recently, but the answer is clear and plain and simple and contained in this one short passage. This friend pointed to this passage and made the statement that people in the Old Testament were saved the same way we are – by personal faith in their Redeemer.

Let’s look at Job’s words.

‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ lets us know that he knew he needed a Redeemer and that this Redeemer was personal and not some kind of generic panacea for sin.

‘He will stand one day on the earth’ tells us that he knew, even at this early stage that the Redeemer would literally come and stand on the earth.

‘In my flesh I shall see God’ informs us that he believed in a bodily resurrection that he would see God face to face.

Though Job had to look forward in faith to the coming Christ and we look back to an accomplished fact we exercise faith in the Redeemer. We both look forward to our resurrection, and we both look forward to seeing God face to face.

Praise God for Job’s example. Praise God that I can say with the same confidence – ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will one day (again) stand on the earth. And that after the skin worms destroy my flesh I will see God face to face.