“And now no one looks on the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them. Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty. The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” Job 37:21-24 ESV
This morning I woke up singing “Good and Gracious King” by City Alight. It begins like this, “I approach the throne of glory, nothing in my hands I bring, but the promise of acceptance, from a good and gracious king.” Such incredible beauty and depth in those few words.
So, reading Job 34 and 35 these words jumped out at me –
It’s like this quote from Jonathan Edwards, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”
Heavenly Father, We have sinned so much in thought, word, and deed. We have sinned against You and sinned against the men and women that You have created in Your own image and yet You remain immoveable and unchanging. You don’t need us and yet You love us. You own the cattle on a thousand hills and yet You bring us into Your family and Your kingdom. What is man that You are mindful of us? How can we ever repay You for all that You have so graciously given to us? We give You our praise and we give You our lives. It’s all we have to give and we give it with hearts full of gratitude. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Have you ever tried making a “pinch pot” out of a little lump of sticky brown clay or have you ever attempted to mold a little clay pot on a potter’s wheel?
I actually grew up with two aunts and one uncle who are professional potters. I spent many hours admiring their work and attempting to make my own. Then a few years ago my oldest daughter and I went to a local pottery shop to try our hand at throwing coffee mugs on a wheel. Let me just say that these experiences have taught me to appreciate the skill involved with making incredible beauty out of a few handfuls of wet dirt.
In this passage of Job, two things jumped out at me.
1. God is the potter. God is who made us and He is who gives us life. He creates and shapes and molds us into what He desires. Friends, none of us are mere accidents. We didn’t just evolve from apes through a random series of accidents. Our lives have purpose. As Ephesians 2:10 explains, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
2. All mankind is level before God. Though you and I each have a unique, intentional purpose, we are all equally pinched off from a piece of clay. (Job 33:6) God has fashioned us each to look different so that we might each accomplish the works which He has designed for us, but may we never boast as though we’re better than anyone else for we’re all just jars of clay made by the perfect potter. May this truth keep us humble before God and before our fellow man.
Oh, Heavenly Father, what is man that You are mindful of us? You know that we are dust. We are but clay in our potter’s hands. You have a divine purpose for each of us. May that truth empower us to go and do the works that You have designed us for. Keep us humble as we remember that we are equally Your creation, and give us courage as we remember that You have works prepared for us to do. In the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
Have you ever overheard someone slander or misrepresent your mom or dad, your brother or sister, or your husband or child? Did you speak up to defend them or to correct the false information?
That is kinda the situation that Elihu is in here, except this time the person being misrepresented is God Himself. Elihu has listened carefully and patiently long enough and now he’s got to speak up.
Like Elihu we must know when to be patient or wait in silence, but we must also know when to speak up! We must not give way to cowardice under the guise of humility. Rather, we must courageously speak the words that the Spirit gives us to speak with gentleness and respect.
As a child of God, we should feel compelled to speak up when our Heavenly Father’s character or His Word are misrepresented. How dare we stand idly by and let our Lord’s Name be sullied or spoiled! Like Peter and John said when they were commanded to stop telling people about the risen Christ, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
Truly, my love for Christ – and His love for me – compels, controls, constrains me to implore others to be reconciled to God. I hope you feel the same way. Let me encourage you to take a few minutes of your time right now to read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 to learn more about being an ambassador for Christ.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your loving kindness and mercy towards me, a sinner. I pray that I would be an ambassador for Your kingdom, sharing the good news of reconciliation that Your Son made possible by His blood. Help me to be gentle, respectful, humble, and patient… And help me to be bold and courageous, not giving way to fear and cowardice. May my love for You compel me to speak up when You are slandered and may my love for others compel me to tell them their desperate need for a Savior. In the Name of Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord I pray, Amen.
In this chapter Job makes his final defense against his friend’s accusations. Again and again he says “If I have” – aka, “Trust me! I haven’t!”
Today I was struck by the fact that mankind’s propensities toward sin hasn’t changed all that much since Job was alive several thousand years ago. We still lust after women and wealth. We still lie and deceive. We still cheat the poor and forsake the widow and orphan.
I was also thinking about how often we only think about the sin of things that we do, sins of “commission,” but Job also talks about the things that we left undone, sins of “omission.” Have you ever considered the fact that not helping the poor, the outcast, the widow, the fatherless, might actually be a sin?
I wonder if we as the body of Christ have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the poor. Have we abdicated our responsibility to help the needy, expecting the local, state, and national government to do what the church has been charged to do?
Lord, please give us wisdom day after day in hope to be Your hands and feet here on earth until we’re taken to heaven. Help us to see those areas where we are falling short, sinning in what we are failing to do. May we not hide behind our church attendance or time spent in Your Word, thinking that gives us some kind of a free pass to not actually do the works that You’ve called us to do. Make us willing ambassadors for Your kingdom, both in what we do and what we don’t do. Keep us free from the love of money. Keep our hearts free from lust and jealousy and envy and deceit. Make us neighbor-lovers and Savior-lovers. Make us conduits of the grace that we have abundantly received from You. In the Almighty Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
“Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me, when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!" - Job 29:2-6 ESV
“But now they laugh at me, men who are younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock." - Job 30:1 ESV
Job once enjoyed the praise of men. He was once the helper of the afflicted. But now he must endure the disdain even of the “rabble” of his community. I’m afraid that is a very common secondary effect of loss, the loss of the companionship and praise of those around you.
The grief-stricken often feels abandoned by whoever has passed, whether their husband or child or parent or sibling, but they also must wrestle through feelings of abandonment by God. To then experience the loss of their place in their community or “friend circle,” is to heap grief upon grief.
In reading through Job, I want to apply what I’m reading to how I treat my friends who are going through loss. I want to be better at reaching out and walking with them. How about you?
Heavenly Father, thank You for all of Your grace. You are impartial. You do not love us better when we are enjoying the praise of man. You do not love us better when our houses are full of children and laughter. You are with us in the dark and trying times. I pray that I would go and do likewise. Help me to draw near to the brokenhearted, to be close to those who are in times of deep distress. Help me to hear these words of Job and apply them to my own life. In the name of Christ I pray, Amen.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 28; Proverbs 3:21-35
Earlier today I got to play a few games of hide and seek with my 20-month-old granddaughter. It wasn’t hard to spot her crouching next to the oversized arm chair in the living room with her thin blond hair peeking up over the back, and her mauve hiking boots stuck out under the seafoam curtains in her bedroom.
But what about wisdom … Where can wisdom be found? Like Job wrote in today’s passage of Job 28.
As an atheist, I prided myself on my own intellect as well as my open-mindedness. I see now my shortcomings in both. I didn’t really research what Christians had to say. In fact, I’d never even really studied the Bible. How could I be so sure that Christianity was just a myth made up by simple-minded people when I didn’t really even know what they believed? And I was anything but open-minded. I had already made up my mind – I was right and they were wrong.
True wisdom will never be found by searching the hearts and minds of men. True wisdom – knowing what is right and knowing the best way to reach it – is only found in the mind of God. God’s wisdom is totally unlike man’s wisdom. If you want to be wise, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (Job 28:28)
1 Corinthians 1:17-2:16 is a gold mine on this topic. I especially love 1 Corinthians 1:20-24, “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Will you pray with me?
I need Your divine wisdom to fill my heart and mind and to guide me in all my ways. I pray that I will trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. I pray for the many people I know who have not yet surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, turning away from their sins and trusting in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. This does, indeed, sound foolish to the natural man, but, Father, Your ways are so much higher and better than ours.
You are God and God alone. Grow our faith and make us courageous messengers for the good news is the gospel! Make us heralds of Your gospel that many will know You and glorify Your name!
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 26-27, Psalm 150
Let’s just ponder this one verse from today’s reading.
On the sixth day of creation, the Lord breathed into the first man, Adam, the breath of life (Genesis 2:7) and He’s been doing it ever since. Why are we so prideful, so self-sufficient, thinking that we are independent creatures who don’t need God? Truly, what do I have that I haven’t been given? Even the very breath in my lungs is a gift from God.
And to think of the gift of language, of thinking and speaking and communicating – with God and with others – oh, what a gift! As an educator for the deaf, I witnessed first-hand how desperately children and parents desire to communicate, whether using gestures or sounds or facial expressions. My 100-lb Aussie-Labradoodle is about as smart as animals come, but he can’t communicate nearly so well as my 20-month old granddaughter. God has given mankind a unique gift in the gift of language, so that we can hear from Him and speak to Him like none of the other creatures He has made on earth.
The final psalm, Psalm 150, is a psalm of praise, praising God with trumpets and harps and strings and pipes, praising Him with dancing and loud crashing cymbals, but oh the gift of singing words of praise and making declarations of spoken praise, telling of His mighty deeds! The Lord has put breath in my lungs and with it I will praise Him! As the final verse of the final psalm says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6) Will you join me in declaring aloud His greatness?!
Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, giver of life and breath, You are worthy of all our praise! You created the sun and moon and stars by Your will and by Your word. You hung the earth on nothing. You created the seas and everything in them. You created the earth and the sky and everything that fills them. What is man that you are mindful of us?
You are worthy of every word of worship, every song of praise, every beat of the drum, every blast of the trumpet, every clang of the cymbal. You are worthy! You are holy and mighty and good. All your ways are right and all Your ways are just.
We worship You in the glory of Your presence. We ask that You would make us vessels of Your glory and grace. We ask that You would make us declarers of Your praise! Use us, Lord! By the sacrifice of Your Son, we have been made temples of Your Holy Spirit. Make us pure and holy vessels for You.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord, we pray. Amen.
I hope your Bible is open as you’re reading this. If it is, you’ll notice that Job 25 is only six verses long, yet it’s so rich that I just let it take me on rabbit trials rather than continuing to read further in Job. In fact, I pretty much studied just one verse.
I opened my trusty Blue Letter Bible app. If you don’t have it, I would highly encourage you to get it. It is free to download and absolutely chock-full of great tools and resources.
First, I looked at cross-references – there was a list of over a dozen. Read through these and let them sink in.
Then I used the interlinear feature to study the words “right” and “pure.”
I noticed that “right” – sadaq – can mean to be just, righteous … or to be made just or declared righteous, while “pure” – zaka – can mean to be clean, pure … or to be made clean and pure. And then I noticed that zaka – “pure” – is also used in Psalm 119:9, so I went there!
Psalm 119:9-12 ESV — How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
Whew! I found so much meat and encouragement by chasing all those rabbit trails from just one verse. Don’t be afraid to do that. You never know where the Lord will lead you.
Heavenly Father, thank you for making me pure and making me clean. Such were some of us … such was I, but I have been washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus.
Lord, I pray that I would keep my ways and my mind pure by keeping them in accordance with Your Word. May I be careful where my feet walk. Help me to think about what I’m thinking about.
Thank You for the purifying, redeeming, cleansing, justifying blood of Jesus Christ, Your only son and my Lord and Savior. It is in His name that I pray. Amen.
Last night I had a friend comment that Job is hard to read. Amen, sister. Job is indeed very hard to read. Sometimes I just focus on one thought from Job and meditate on it. I also like to use the words in Job as a springboard for prayer. Let’s try a few verses of that today.
Job 23:8-10 ESV – Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Heavenly Father, Sometimes I feel like You’re not there. Sometimes I can’t feel You or see You and it feels like You’ve abandoned me. Help me to remember the truth: You will never leave me or forsake me. You have made me Your sheep and I am Yours. It is me – not You – who is prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. Thank You that You always know the way that I take, that I cannot escape from Your presence, that I cannot hide from You no matter where I go. And thank You for Jesus, my good shepherd who searches for me and joyfully brings me back into Your fold.
Job 23:11-12 ESV — My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Heavenly Father, please help my feet to remain on the straight and narrow path, to hold fast to You and Your ways. Let me not turn aside. May I ponder the path of my feet and not turn to the left or the right in what I say or think or do. Keep me from sins of omission as well as commission. Help me to actively do good, rather than just not doing bad. I want to treasure Your words more than food, even more than rich, sweet, tasty food. Your love is indeed better than any treasure here on earth.
Job 23:13-14 ESV — But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind.
Lord, You are unchangeable. No one can turn You away. You do whatever You desire. You will be faithful to complete whatever You have begun. And I’m so thankful for that because Your ways are always best. There is so often a way that seems right to me, but it’s end is simply the way to death. Help me to trust You. Help me to believe that Your way is always best.
In the almighty, all-good Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
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