Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"There IS hope to be found!"

Day #111

Scripture Reading:  Job 13 - 14 …

You can live without a lot of things that you think you need, but HOPE is not one of them.  The Bible talks a lot about hope because people need hope to live in this world that is so deeply affected by our rebellion against God and the consequences our sin brings.  People “hope” for a lot of things and we spend much of our lives being disappointed, but the hope God offers to those who know Him, who trust Him and who love and serve Him goes beyond the indefinite possibilities upon which most people bet their happiness.  Many of the things we hope for in this life are like dreams that disappear in the light of day.  They never become reality.  Hope is, in so many ways, the “not yet” of life.  Maybe tomorrow.  

People will often attempt to encourage themselves by thinking, “Tomorrow has to be better than today!”  But what if it isn’t??  What if your problems multiply tomorrow or next week or next month?  Think of what Job had already been through and now his friends were telling him that he was suffering because of his sin.  Job was worn out; emotionally, mentally and spiritually TIRED!!  But God would not leave him there.  It might be said that the entire book of Job is God's work in Job's life to give him real hope - a hope that can't be taken away.  God wants the same for you and me.  If you hope for things God has not promised there is no guarantee that you will have what you have asked.  God promises HOPE to those who know Him and who trust Him.  As much as Job needed to learn that lesson, so do we!!  If you haven’t learned it yet, prepare to learn it through trials and suffering.  Our hope is NOT in everything going the way WE want them to go, but in trusting the sovereign God who loved His children so much that He gave His own Son to bring us into His family!

Job thought he had hope at the beginning.  He worshiped God and he prayed for his children.  He was wealthy and had all a man could ask for in this world.  Life was good.  Then God allowed Satan to take it all away and to inflict Job with sores all over his body.  Yet, Job trusted God … at first.  And even in these two chapters Job continues to testify that he has a glimmer of hope:  "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him" (13:15).  But Job is found doing in these chapters what so many do today:  questioning God and trying to understand why these things were happening to him.  He dares to say, "I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God" (13:3).  He asks God to withdraw His hand from him and to let him speak with Him.  Job's friends have been telling him that he deserves what he is getting and that he has obviously sinned against God and is now being punished for it.  What Job needed was hope, and hope comes from knowing the truth about how God works and leaving the rest to HIM.

Where can you find hope in the midst of trials and suffering?  HOW do you find hope in the midst of trials and suffering?  Job is having what we might call today a "pity party."  He says, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (14:1).  "Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed" (14:5).  "Man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more" (14:10).  Job is trying desperately to find hope, but you can't find it in the midst of a pity party!  The problem with a pity party is you can’t invite anyone.  Inevitably, the first consequence of feeling sorry for yourself is having already decided that no one else can possibly understand what you are going through; OR, you will find others who are feeling sorry for themselves and you can complain against God together.  Does that produce hope?  No!!

Still, Job says, "I will wait for my renewal to come" (14:14), and "My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; You will cover over my sin" (14:17).  Could Job be talking about God's forgiveness?  Is that where hope can at last be found?  In the midst of his despair, Job is hoping that there is more to life than he can see at the present, but from where he was it was hard to find.  It is believed that Job lived somewhere around the time of Abraham, more than 2,000 years before Jesus was born.  God's revelation of His plan of salvation and His giving of the law and the tabernacle and all of the signs and ceremonies pointing to the coming Savior were beyond Job's reach.  His quest for hope could only be satisfied in God's revelation of Himself.  Job was, in many ways, “in the dark” when it came to knowing God as you and I can know Him today, as “Abba, Father.”  Yet, in the end, it would be the knowledge of the sovereign God that would correct his thinking and set his feet back on the rock that cannot be moved ... the God who never changes and who always keeps His promises.  Do YOU know Him?

So many lessons to be learned by Job ... lessons that need to be learned by you and me and others today.  God WOULD and did reveal Himself to Job at the end of the story, but we have an even clearer revelation!!  We have God's Word, from Genesis through Revelation - AND we have Jesus and the cross, His resurrection, His ascension and the promise of His return.  For us, hope should be easy, shouldn't it?  Through faith in Jesus Christ it can be ... and IS!  Have you found it?  Do you have it?

As the Spirit of God opens your mind and heart to believe God's Word, hope is to be found in God's revelation of Himself.  God IS in control and knows the number of our days.  We DO deserve God's judgment for our sins, but in the midst of suffering and trials God does not abandon those who know and trust Him.  It is through faith in God that we can know Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, and the forgiveness Job hoped for is a gift of God's grace to those who place their hope in Jesus Christ.  There IS hope to be found in the God who "so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!" 

"Our Father in heaven, YOU are our hope!  By Your grace we enter Your presence, confessing our sin and our need for forgiveness, and finding in Jesus ALL that we need!  Thank You for hope!  My hope is in YOU!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen" 

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