Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"How does God 'work'?"

Day #40:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - February 6th

Scripture Reading:  Job 11 - 12 ...

Be careful what you say about God because HE is listening!  Those who claim to speak truth about God to another person need to understand God themselves, and who of us knows or understands God completely?  No one!  But God HAS revealed Himself and how He "works" in the lives of those who come to know Him ... and Job was one of these.

Job started out so well!  Do you remember?  He lost all of his children and his possessions, yet he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (1:21).  Then we are told, "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing" (1:22).

Then God allowed Satan to afflict Job with sores from head to toe, yet in spite of his wife's encouraging advice ("Curse God and die!" - 2:9), Job continued to declare truth about God and to hold onto his faith:  "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (2:10).  By the time we arrive at chapters 11-12, however, Job's friends have attempted to convince Job that God is dealing with him because of his sin.  They believe that if Job will confess his sin and repent, all will be well in his life.

So what's wrong with that?  Zophar chastises Job in chapter 11 and actually says some true things about God.  "Can you fathom the mysteries of God/  Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?  They are higher than the heavens ..." (11:7-8).  Since no one is without sin, it is easy to attribute suffering such as Job was going through to God's discipline.  Zophar seems to be saying, "If you live right, you won't have problems like this!"

Like so many today Zophar believes that obedience to the Lord produces "your best life now!"  He states confidently, "If you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand ... Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning ..." (11:13-14,17).  Does that mean troubles are caused by sin?  Is suffering always the result of sin?  Is that how God "works?"

We know from chapter 1 that this was NOT the case.  Does sin sometimes bring discipline?  Yes.  Does obedience sometimes bring visible blessings, including prosperity, health and other good things?  Yes.  But that's not always how God "works."  God's ways are not our ways ... they're much, much higher!  Job rightly observes that sometimes it looks like, "Those who provoke God are secure ..." (12:6).  So it seems ...  Job declares throughout chapter 12 that God is in control over all things.  "To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His" (12:13).

How DOES God "work?"  God orders the events of mankind in ways beyond our understanding to bring glory to Himself and to lead His children through good times and hard times into His perfect presence.  Those who trust in Him will at last enter into His presence by faith in the Savior He promised and sent, who died and rose again and ascended into heaven to intercede on our behalf.  Meanwhile, those who do not come to God through faith in Christ may find their lives easy in this world, but they will ultimately face God's wrath and judgment.

You and I are called to believe all that God has revealed about Himself and to trust Him in every circumstance, knowing that He will never leave those who are His.  Job knew that, in his heart of hearts, as we shall see.  We need to know how God "works" and where we do not understand, live by faith!

"Father, I pray that you will help me to believe all that You have revealed in Your Word about Yourself.  I know that Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are far beyond mine.  I trust You to give me all I need to follow Jesus, whether in good times or bad, and to declare to the world that my God reigns!  I love You, Lord!!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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