Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Oh, how we need a Savior!"

Day #115

Scripture Reading:  Job 21 - 22 …

We who know the true God and believe all that He has revealed to us in His Word about Himself and His grace in Jesus Christ are called to live by FAITH in this world and not by sight!  Some would say that is easier said than done, but when you truly KNOW God as the sovereign God who rules over all things, and then know Him as “Abba, Father” through faith in Jesus and the work of His Spirit within you, it IS easier to trust than to doubt.  Through trials and suffering you learn that His grace really is sufficient and His love really does endure forever.  He IS faithful to His children!  Job AND his friends, like so many today, needed to deepen their knowledge of who God was and is.  They needed to arrive at the place of knowing that everything that happens in this world is able to be turned for good for those who know God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and to result in glory to God.  The “how” is the question!

That’s why reading through Job a little at a time is like pulling a tooth slowly!  The agony is just about more than you can bear.  If you have read Job before, you know how it ends, but if you haven't, you long for Job and his friends to somehow be "straightened out," corrected in their thinking.  While they speak some true things about God and how things seem to be in the world, they all still miss the point that God is worthy of praise no matter what our circumstances may be.  A contemporary song declares, “I will praise Him in the storm!”  If God is worthy of praise only in the good times, what do we do in the “other” times?  We are called to live by faith and it is that truth that Job and his friends should be talking about!  It is that truth that you and I should be talking about, too, in the midst of our own trials and times of suffering.

Job voices the frustration of the Psalmist in Psalm 73 when he sees the wicked prosper.  “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.  But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:1-2).  Too many think it does no good to believe in God, to draw near to Him through faith in Jesus, to believe in His love and the power of His Spirit, if we’re still going to have troubles … but that’s not true!  What if our God, the only true God, is wise enough and powerful enough to bring good out of evil?  What if our testimony is even stronger when we persevere through trials and praise Him in the midst of the storm?  What if it is then that we most clearly point to HIS power at work within us?!!

Eventually, Job arrives at the same place, understanding that in the end the wicked perish.  "Their prosperity is not in their own hands" (21:16).  Job observes that the man who is healthy and wealthy dies alongside the man who is neither.  "Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both" (21:26).  Apparently, Job's friends had been jealous of his wealth, of his prosperity.  Job rejects their attempts to convince him that it is because of his own sin that he is suffering.  In fact, Eliphaz lists Job's sins in 22:5-9.  He accuses Job of ignoring the needs of others in the midst of his wealth and THIS is why God is punishing him.  It makes me want to say, "Will you STOP already!"  Was Job blameless?  No!  But he knew that.  He wanted to believe that God had a greater purpose in his suffering, but he was getting NO help from his friends as they continued to press him, to attack him, to accuse him.

Job asks, "Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since He judges even the highest?" (21:22).  Job KNOWS that God is right, no matter what.  He DOES trust God, and with some encouragement he would quite probably be in a much better mental and emotional state.  So why does God allow this to happen and why is the book of Job in the Bible?  What is there that we can continue to learn from this back-and-forth debate between Job and his friends?  The answer may lie in all of Job's questions.

Most people have a lot of questions.  Many people demand that God answer their questions.  Others give up on finding any answers or even believing that there are answers ... Preachers, teachers, Christian leaders of all kinds declare that it is all right to ask questions, it is good to ask questions and God understands our questions.  Here's the problem - and I feel the need to jump ahead just a little to when the LORD finally interrupts and speaks to Job.  What does God think about all the questions people ask, all the while insisting, or at least implying, that what God is doing or the way He is doing it doesn't make sense?  Is that OK with God?

Chapter 38, verses 2-3:  "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me!"  That's what GOD thinks of such questioning.  Asking questions to increase your knowledge and all that He has revealed about Himself are good questions.  Asking and praying for wisdom and understanding is good and right.  But asking questions that express frustration with God's ways and that demand explanations in order for us to live by faith only reveals a foolish, sinful pride!  Job's friends led him there and Job fell into their trap.  Don't do that!  Don't let anyone make you question what you know of God from His Word.  There are things in life that we cannot explain or understand.  Once again, as Isaiah says, God's ways are higher than our ways and past finding out.

The greatest lesson to be gained from Job is that we are called to live by FAITH!!  Living by faith doesn't require all the answers.  Faith knows God and trusts God and testifies ... as Job did at the beginning ... BEFORE his friends came.  Believe, trust, live in God's presence and KNOW that HE IS WITH YOU ALWAYS!!  Don't let faith be crowded out by anything!  Once you have the knowledge of the Savior, and you testify, "I know that my Redeemer lives," as Job did in Chapter 19, verse 25 ... stay there, and stop asking questions!!

"Heavenly Father, You are GOD!  There is no other.  Help me, O LORD, my God, to find my rest in Your arms as life happens all around me and the floor seems to drop out from under me.  Hold me up and remind me that YOU are my Savior!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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