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.
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.
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.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 22; Psalm 73
Have you ever struggled with why “bad things happen to good people”? I believe the simple answer to that question is, “Truly there are no good people. We’re all downright bad. None of us deserve anything that the Lord so kindly gives to us.
But, today when reading Job 22, I found myself thinking about this question, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”
Why does God allow the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both the evil and the good, like we read in Matthew 5:45? Why is the LORD is good to all and have mercy on all that he has made? (Psalm 145:9)
Why do the wicked prosper like we considered in yesterday’s reading of Job 21?
In Psalm 73, Asaph wrestled with these same questions. He found himself envious of the wicked, but as he pondered his life on earth and his life in eternity compared to theirs, he realized how much better off he is.
"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." - Psalm 73:23-28 ESV
When we’re wrestling with all these why’s, let’s speak truth to ourselves and remind ourselves of what we know is true.
Will you pray with me?
You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I would rather have one day with You than a thousand apart from You. For me, truly, it is good to be near You. You are my refuge and strength and guide.
Truly, You are good to both the evil and the good. You are good and gracious. And I am not.
Make me more like You. Conform me into Your likeness. May Your glory and goodness shine brightly out of my life. Use me as Your mouthpiece. I want to tell of all Your works for You are so, so good. Your steadfast love is better than life.
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Job 16-17; Psalm 23
After Job’s friend, Eliphaz, shares his human wisdom with his grieving friend (Job 15), it comes Job’s turn to reply. Job’s first words to his friends are, “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.”
Ain’t that the truth? Miserable counselors they have been. When you’ve lost all ten of your children, all of your possessions, and even your health, do you really want to hear words like, “Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash, that you turn your spirit against God and bring such words out of your mouth?” (Job 15:12)
Remember, friends, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. I pray that we learn to speak those words that fit the occasion, to ask the Holy Spirit, our great counselor, to guide us in what to say to a grieving friend.
So, how amazing it was to then read Psalm 23 right on the heels of the words of Job’s heartache.
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1-4 ESV
Job’s friends truly were miserable comforters, but God’s rod and staff bring comfort to His sheep.
According to GotQuestions.org, the shepherd’s rod was a “sturdy wooden stick used as a weapon to fight off wild animals” while the shepherd’s staff was “a long, slender stick, often hooked at the tip, used primarily to direct the sheep…. The shepherd used his staff to keep his sheep out of danger and close to himself…. Together the rod and the staff of Psalm 23 paint a picture of the divine Shepherd who wields them. He is strong, competent, and trustworthy; He is present with His sheep, able to defend them and watch over them through all the dangers they face.”
Jesus truly is our very good shepherd who comforts us in all our affliction. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Please help us to be patient with our friends when they say stupid things because they just don’t know what to say. I’m sure it hurts them to see us hurting. Help us to have grace toward them when they are terrible comforters and say things that make our pain even worse.
I pray that we will trust You all the more as we see what miserable counselors even our dearest friends are. You, Father, are our greatest comforter. Apply Your Word like a balm to our hurting soul. Speak to us through Your Words, healing our brokenness for Your glory, comforting us that we can comfort others.
Lord, I want to thank You in all circumstances and trust that You have purpose in my pain. As I walk through the dark valley, will you please grow my faith muscles? Help me to see Your light glowing at the end of the tunnel, guiding me with your merciful staff and fending away my enemies with Your righteous, rugged rod.
I pray that You will someday use my pain to comfort others who find themselves in pain. Teach me how to speak fit words for hurting hearts. Lead me with Your wisdom to when to speak and when to be silent, when to exhort and when to encourage. I want to be an instrument of Your peace, to be my brother’s keeper, to love my neighbor as myself, and to comfort others with the comfort that we have received from You.
In the Name of our Perfect Comforter, Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.
Before going any further in our study in the book of Job, I want you to know that I’m actually finding it really weird to invest time reading through Job verse by verse and sharing my thoughts with you, because many of the ideas contained here simply aren’t good theology. No one should base their ideas about God and man on the grief-stricken meditations of Job, like “Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave.” (Job 10:18-19) But on the other hand, it’s actually really cool to mine for truth in this book. Like you can find truth in secular books and movies, you can find truth in the words of Job and his friends, though I still caution you from using them as the foundation for your theological beliefs.
With that out of the way, let me ask you a question – Have you ever greeted someone with the very standard question, “How are you today?” and received the unexpected reply, “Better than I deserve”? There’s TRUTH in those words. All of us are better than we deserve. Like Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.”
So, today, let’s ponder these words spoken to Job by his friend, Zophar,
Dear friends, I don’t know about you, but I know that I have broken God’s law more times than I can count. I have used His name in vain. I have blasphemed the Almighty Creator of the Universe. I have mocked and criticized His Son and His children. I have hated and dishonored God and His creation.
God would be totally just to spit in my face, call me unspeakable names, slap me across both my cheeks, and apply two-dozen lashings across my back. I deserve to be hung and shot and burned. I deserve it. God has exacted from me much less than my guilt deserves.
Truly, God has had mercy on me, a sinner. God pours out His grace on me and calls me His child. God sent His Own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for my sins – making a way for me to not only NOT be punished, but to receive EVERLASTING LIFE!
I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy. But He has made me worthy. That is indeed Amazing GRACE.
Oh the Grace of our Lord God! The matchless, unfathomable GRACE of God! Not only have You not given us what we deserve, but You have given us that which we do not deserve – boundless, eternal abundant life, the riches of glory with You.
Lord, please help us to understand how great is Your goodness, that we will shout from the mountaintops, “Christ the Lord is Risen! Hallelujah! Come to Him! Come to Him!” We have found a goldmine with limitless gold. We have found the living water that never ceases. We have found the bread that is indeed new every morning. May Your love compel us to share this good news with others. Let us not keep these wonders to ourselves. Your love is boundless – it grows as it is shared. Let us share it! Give us ears to hear and eyes to see and mouths to proclaim Your mercy and grace and power and might and goodness!
Read through the Bible in 2 years: Psalm 21, Job 8
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. - Psalm 21:1-6
Reading Psalm 21, I think about how much the Lord has blessed me. No, He never made me a king like David with power and riches and splendor and majesty, but He has bestowed on me the greatest blessing: He has made me glad with the joy of His presence.
But then to read Job chapter 8, and to ponder the words of Job’s friend Bildad who though he spoke truth – God is just, God will restore Job’s fortunes and bless his life, the godless will surely not prosper – I was reminded of Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Bildad’s words were not fitly spoken because they did not come from a heart of humility and tenderness. How can our words be fitting when our heart is not right? How can we speak such words when a friend has just lost all of their children and possessions? Friends, we must be careful not only in what we say, but how and when.
Will you pray with me?
Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Let me look upon Your glory and see Your face. May my words be as heartfelt as they are true. Thank You for the joy of Your presence. You have indeed made me glad as I have trusted in You. You are always good. Make me more like You.
The two lowest times in my life were in March of 1994 and October of 1998. Yet these were also the two times when Jesus began to radically transform my faith.
March 1994 was when I finally broke up with my fiance, Eric, and moved to St. Louis. Shortly thereafter I met Jesus and began a whole new life with Him by my side.
October 1998 was when I found out that our stillborn son’s body had been lost by the hospital after his autopsy. I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. My son being stillborn was painful enough …. Why this?
I wrestled and struggled and mourned and questioned and grieved for months. What had I done wrong? Was God punishing me? I didn’t want to go to church. I didn’t want to have playdates with my friends and their children. I just wanted to curl up in bed and stay there.
My friends couldn’t understand the depth of my pain. “He wasn’t even full-term.” “You’ll have another.” “I had a miscarriage, too, once. You’ll get over it. Give it some time.” “It was just a body.” Their words dug into my heart like so many little piercing arrows.
I distanced myself from my friends, and they distanced themselves from me, too. I couldn’t relate to them … And they couldn’t relate to me, either. They didn’t want to just sit and grieve with me day after day. A few days of crying was enough, wasn’t it? Why was this still going on weeks and even months later?
This was when the book of Job really entered my life for the first time. Actually, I had first met Job casually in college when I read it as a “great work of ancient literature” in one of my liberal arts classes. But 1998 is when Job’s words pierced my heart even deeper than my friends’ words.
Out of all that pain and confusion God again did something new in my heart. He grew my faith in new and profound ways. He taught me to trust Him even when I don’t understand. He taught me that He is good even when people aren’t. He taught me that I can always turn to Him in my pain and suffering.
This week, reading Job again, really taking time to sit and study and journal and think, Job’s piercing words are aimed at my heart in a new way. Have I withheld kindness from a friend? Have I made light of a friend’s suffering? Can I look my friend in the eye and hold her hand in her grief?
Sisters, let’s not make the same mistakes as Job’s friends. Let’s run toward our friends in their pain, being willing to mourn with those who mourn, rather than running away out of fear and discomfort.
Let’s pray together.
Your grace is sufficient for me for Your power is made perfect in my weakness. Thank You for giving us this book of Job, that we could better understand the grief of men and the goodness of God. Please help us to be good friends, to run towards those who are hurting instead of running away. Help us to be willing to sit and listen, instead of always trying to speak and fix. Make us vessels of Your love and peace and kindness and comfort.
I’ve often found myself in the position of encourager. People come to me when they need prayer or encouragement or words of wisdom. This is certainly a blessing from God, and I’m honored to serve my sisters in this way. But … what about when it’s me who needs the prayer and encouragement and words of wisdom? Will I be able to take my own advice or will I crumble under the weight? Will my friends take the opportunity to encourage me, or will they point out my shortcomings in my sorrow?
After sitting silently with Job for seven days and nights (Job 2:13) Job’s friend, Eliphaz, finally speaks. His friend’s first words aren’t, “I’m so sorry, Job. I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. I’m with you and I’ll stay with you through thick and thin. I’m glad to have you as a friend.”
No, Job’s friends’ first words are:
"If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed." - Job 4:3-5
Can I just say how much a simple word of thanksgiving and encouragement can strengthen a heavy heart? Today, at a youth Bible study where I teach, one of the students’ moms approached me and asked if she could take my picture. She went on to explain how much her daughter loves me and that she’s always telling her grandma about “Mrs. Kim.” That put wind in my sails like nothing else. Those few words encouraged me to keep on keeping on.
Something as simple as a hand-written note or a comment on a blog saying, “Thanks for taking the time to write this. Your words really ministered to me,” might just be what that person needs that day. Click the “like” button. Forward a message to someone else who is hurting.
Will we be like the one leper who returned to give Jesus thanks for healing him? Or like the nine who received healing and kept right on their merry way, healed but unappreciative? (Luke 17:11-19)
Sisters, will you pray for me? I’d sure appreciate it.
Will you encourage those who have encouraged you? I know they’d appreciate it.
Thank You for Your faithful, never-ending grace and encouragement. You never grow tired. You never feel hopeless. You always see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I pray for my sisters who are facing trials today – who have lost a child, a parent, a job. I pray for the one who is losing hope today, who feels like the sun will never shine again, who feels like they can’t make it one more step.
Will you please send someone to them to encourage them? Will You please use me to speak life to someone who needs it? Will You please pour Your love lavishly into my heart, so I have love to give to the next one? Make me Your vessel. Make Your Word a balm to their heavy soul.
Father, I am so weak and I grow weary. Please, Father, encourage me. Pour into me. Lift up my hands and my head. Let me not lose heart. Please send friends around me to lift me up, that I will not faint.
Have you ever found yourself running in this rat’s race of life, pursuing some pie in the sky goal, but unable to reach it no matter how hard you try? Or maybe you have succeeded in reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself – you’ve gotten accepted into that college, graduated as valedictorian, married the guy, had the babies, won the praises of man – and yet you still find your life empty?
Like the song “Never Enough” from the 2017 blockbuster hit, “The Greatest Showman,” no matter what the world has to offer you, it’s never enough.
All the shine of a thousand spotlights All the stars we steal from the night sky Will never be enough Never be enough Towers of gold are still too little These hands could hold the world but it’ll Never be enough Never be enough
Today, when I finished reading the book of Genesis, it struck me, “Lord, whatever this world has to offer, it’s never enough.”
Eve thought, “If only I could eat the fruit of that tree…”
Lot’s wife thought, “If only I could go back home…”
Sarah thought, “If only I could have a son…”
Rebekah thought, “If only my son Jacob would receive his father’s blessing…”
Leah thought, “If only Jacob loved me…”
Rachel thought, “If only I had a son…”
In the final verse of Genesis 45, Jacob receives word that his favorite son, Joseph, whom he thought had been killed by wild animals is still alive. Jacob says,
And then when Jacob was finally reunited with his dearly loved son, he says “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” (Genesis 56:30) And God graciously gives Jacob another 17 years of life after seeing his son – time enough to know not only Joseph but also Joseph’s two sons who were born during Joseph’s years in Egypt.
At the end of his life, Jacob asks Joseph to bring near his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.”
And suddenly my mind started thinking, “Lord, when will it be enough for me? When I have that next thing, that next relationship, that next opportunity? When I finally quit doing that thing that I hate? When my husband finally does the next thing? When my child does that most important thing? When will it be enough?”
And then I was reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
We learn of God’s grace as we are humbled. Surely these afflictions are for our good. It is good to recognize that nothing on earth will ever be enough. Treasures on earth – whether monetary or relational – will never satisfy. Our lives are better because of the thorns that the Lord has in His mercy given us.
Our faith grows as it is stretched.
Let’s pray together.
You alone are worthy. You are enough. You satisfy. In Your presence there is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Your face, Lord, is what I seek.
In this world, You have promised that I will have troubles, but Lord You have also promised that I can take heart before You have overcome the world.
If I have every trapping of this world – all the knowledge and wisdom, all the fame and power and praise of man, all the riches, all the relationships – it will never be enough. Let me not seek after these worldly things that can never satisfy.
Let me boast only in You – that I know You, that You are the Lord, my Lord, who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. This is what You delight in, so make these my delight, too.
You are a good shepherd and You are my shepherd. I have everything I need. You are enough.
Your grace is enough for me. You are more than enough for me.
In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Psalm 16:11; Psalm 27:8; John 16:33; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Psalm 23
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