Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31st Readings: by Mrs.Oz

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 40:6-42:17. You can read online here.
Key Verse:
"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes."

Job 42:5-6
"There are eyes in the tongue of the soul. 'Taste and see that the lord is good'. Five seconds of honey on the tongue will teach you more of sweetness then ten hours of lecture about the scientific distinction between sweetness and sourness. Until God gives you a taste in your soul of his goodness, you can read listen and study and never be changed." John Piper

God speaks to Job from the storm. He tells him he will ask Job and Job will instruct him. A most humbling statement follows as the instructor steps aside from the pulpit and in essence says "you teach me if you think you are so smart!". It's sarcastic and therefore funny to us as we read but it also tells us of the frustration of God with Job at this point. Thankfully God does not sin in His frustration, He just gets busy working his purpose in us. He goes on to challenge Job to "spend a day in his shoes" so to speak and take over the job of being God. "Then I will also confess to you, That your own right hand can save you." (vs.14) The absurdity of it shows the point He means to make with Job.
He then goes on to talk about the Behemoth (I'd love to hear a creation scientist insight right here or if anyone knows of any links please share because it's a fascinating topic especially realizing that the story of Job took place not too long after the flood) describing his powerful characteristics, the greatest of land creatures made by God. Then, in the sea, he tells of the mighty Leviathan and revels for a few moments in the fierceness of this creature asking Job some mocking questions he all ready knows the answers to, to get him to think.
Much of he language from Elihu had to do with hearing and Job's ears hearing the truth. Now God wants to open the eyes of Job's soul. He wants him to see who He is and who Job is in light of Him. The lights have been turned on, God has stepped in and given Job a taste of Himself. The largest of the large, the mightiest of the mighty in creation are used by God to reflect His glory to Job. This work can only be done by Almighty God and the final act belongs to Him. When man truly sees God for who He is, and sees himself for who he is, there is only one result and that is repentance. Job repents. Job use to esteem his righteousness quite highly (though more as a matter of fact than of pride it would seem) until he saw God and Job went face down. The wisdom he had before looks now to him like ignorance and he states: "I have uttered that which I did not understand" (42:3)
"God is after broken hearted child-like joy and faith whatever it takes. It's the most valuable thing he can give you." John Piper
Job is not yet healed however.
In Job 42:7 we have a crucial part of the story where God rebukes Eliphaz and his two friends. It is very important to note that Elihu is not rebuked. The three men were rebuked by God for their bad theology (vs.7) so we could conclude from this that Elihu's theology was right on in what he said to Job. God was pretty put out with these men to make a point in scripture of their rebuke so it would seem that he would have included Elihu had he displeased Him. This is an argued point among respected Christan men however, so we'll just leave it there:). God confuses us a little here by saying that the three friends were wrong but what Job said is right. We get stumped because we know that not all Job has said is right. However, when we see the reference is in regard to the complaint God has against these men we see more clearly the point God is making. They said that suffering comes from sin and prosperity comes from righteousness. Job said that the righteous do indeed suffer and the wicked do indeed prosper. God says Job was right. Job had better theology than these men.
The point though is that Job has something huge he has to do here. He has to forgive those who have wronged him. He is still in the pains of illness. He is humbled and repentant but not restored. Job does forgive them and prays for them and God listens to Job's prayer.
THEN the Lord restores Job. It is a picture to us all of God's restoration. For some it may happen here on earth, for others we may pass away in our suffering but God will restore whether it begins here or not. It makes me think of the verse about God restoring the years the locust have eaten. I'm always thankful God restored Job in his temporal world just because of the intensity of his suffering. Though all suffering feels intense to the one who suffers and God does not overlook any of it. Satan's accusations have been proven wrong and God has been vindicated in his assessment of his servant Job. Job has seen and tasted of God and has reaped the spiritual reward of that blessing before any of his physical restoration. We have been blessed by hearing and reading and learning of the story of Job. Now, we pray God will open our eyes to see him so we can be changed and our joy made full.
"Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" James 5:11

To wrap up the book of Job, a hard book to read and to understand as well as to experience as we hurt for this man of sorrows, I wanted to point out a delight. It helps us feel the fullness of the joy in Job's in his restoration. Job's fortune is given back to him and then some. He has the same number of children as before. (side note: there is no telling of what happened to Job's wife. We do not see that she dies so we must assume that she is the mother of these 10. I think we need to take a moment to remember that this mother lost all she had as well. God does not rebuke her in the end so I hope the story is that she also repented. The fruit of the womb is a reward and I would hope it was for her. I guess we will only know when we get to heaven!) He named his children names that reflected the joy of his heart:
Jemimah: means "day light"
Keziah: means "sweet smelling"
Keren-happuch: describes a beautiful color ladies used to paint their eyelids.

The treasure he had found in God seemed to bubble over into everything around him. He had tasted and seen that God was good and wise and it poured out of him in praise and gratitude even in the names of his children.

I look forward to feasting with this man one day, seeing the joy in his eyes and hearing the story straight from him. I'm sure there will be many songs of praise sung to God from Job's table in eternity.

Tomorrow's readings are in Exodus 1-2:25; 1 Chronicles 6:1-3; Exodus 3-4:17. Go here to read online.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30th Readings ~ by Andrea

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 38-40:5. Click here to read online.

I love this passage of scripture. I -- like a lot of you -- did not really 'get' the previous chapters of Job, but I love how these chapters show God's sovereignty and majesty. In one of my NIV Bible's, there is an Insight section on exactly these couple of chapters, so I thought I'd begin by sharing some of those thoughts.

"In the span of a few days Job experienced more tragedy than most people encounter in a lifetime. He scratched himself with shards of pottery and mourned the day he was born. He could not even suffer with dignity; he had to endure his wife's taunts and his friends' ramblings. Nothing anyone said helped him.

Through it all, Job steadfastly refused to turn his back on God. He had only one request. He wanted to hear from God in person. He wanted an explanation straight from the Source.
At last Job got his wish. God answered Job with a speech often quoted for its majesty and beauty. In a touch of irony, God made his entrance just as Elihu was explaining why Job could not expect a direct answer from him.

Job had saved up a long list of questions, but it was God who asked the questions, not Job. 'Brace yourself like a man,' he began. 'I will question you, and you shall answer me.'

Frederick Buechner sums up what follows: 'God doesn't explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kind of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam.' God did not need Job's or anyone else's advice on how to run the world.

God's reply resembled a nature lesson more than an explanation of the problem of suffering. He pointed out, one by one, all the creations that gave him greatest pride. In short, God asked Job, 'Do you want to try running the universe for awhile? Go ahead, try designing an ostrich, or a mountain goat, or even a snowflake.'

Astonishingly, the question of suffering itself did not even come up. Yet somehow Job seemed satisfied -- humiliated, actually. 'Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,' he confessed, 'things too wonderful for me to know.' "
(42:3 -- which I know isn't until tomorrow's reading)

I must say, I did smile when reading these verses, thinking of God's sarcastic tone. I did find it interesting though, as it said in the insight I just quoted above, that the topic of suffering didn't come up; not one word was said about that topic. Wasn't that Job's whole issue? Why he had to suffer so much when he did nothing wrong to deserve it in the first place? Yet it's true -- Job indeed seemed satisfied with God's response and felt unworthy.

I think this serves as a wonderful reminder to us that even though things may not make sense to us -- God is faithful and God is in control. There may be many situations where we question God. Does he really know what he's doing? or What did we do to deserve a child with a fatal disease? or How could he allow the awful earthquake to happen that is plaguing Haiti? But God is all-knowing and God does know what he's doing. He is running an entire universe, a job that I would certainly never wish to have. And our job, as followers of Christ, is to trust him with our entire being.

Not to say we will never question things that happen -- afterall, we are only human. But in the end, we need to remember that God is God and we are to put our lives in his hands and allow him to do with it what he sees fit. Even if it makes entirely no sense to us.

Tomorrow's readings are from Job 40:6-42:17. Click here to read online.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jen’s Testimony

I was raised in a culturally Christian home. We went to church on Sunday but did not have a bible in the house. I was christened and confirmed in the faith, yet I had no relationship with Jesus. None of us knew the Word so how could we possibly follow His ways?

Instead, I was raised on the “Good Person” gospel. Just be a good person and everything will be fine. So I got good grades, worked to be popular in school, wore the right clothes and thought about myself first. I lied, I stole, I committed sexual immorality. I was a glutton, a drunkard and a fool. But I didn’t know it because I was a good person, living by the law of the world.

I spent my 20’s living fast and working my way up the corporate ladder. Before I knew it, I was 31,divorced and wanting a do-over, but I didn’t turn to God. Believing that being a good person was enough to expect good things for my life, I carried on in my own strength. I met Dave, fell in love and remarried with high hopes for the future.

Soon, we were expecting our 1st child and we were so excited. Sadly, I miscarried and my world shattered. My heart was broken. I was broken and for the 1st time in my life, I cried out to God. “Why God? Why did this happen? Why should I endure such heartbreak? I’ve always believed in You! I have always known that you are good! I am a good person. Why?”

And He said, “I am here.” And I felt His presence for the very 1st time. His peace. And He held me all through that night.

I awoke still broken, but with a new hope hidden in my heart. The Holy Spirit began the long process of drawing me in. This hunger that I couldn’t really identify kept rumbling within me. Our first son was born and I joined my friend at her church one Sunday. I kept going with her through my second pregnancy. Just after our second son was born, I got a bible and started reading it. I volunteered at vacation bible school. I watched all of these Christian families very closely. They all seemed to have this secret to joy that I didn’t and I wanted what they had. And soon after, with my bewildered husband clutching our baby & toddler looking on, I was baptized in a backyard pool after church one Sunday.

That was 10 years ago.

A lifetime ago.

I was on fire. The hunger for God’s Word was insatiable. I couldn’t get enough. I was at church every time the doors were open. I soaked up everything. I could feel the Holy Spirit within me. I marveled at the changes in my spirit. And somewhere along the line, I took over. I began to look to people instead of God. Legalism and a judgmental heart took hold of me. It wasn’t pretty.

I am just now, after all this time, dying to myself. Or , I should say, coming to understand how and why to do that each and everyday. I am just now cherishing my relationship with Jesus above all else. I am just now facing those little hidden sins of pride, selfishness, unforgiveness and idolatry that separate me from true freedom in Christ.

I spent so much time trying to be a good Christian in my own power. I don’t want to waste one more day! It isn’t about me at all, is it? It is about Him! It is my prayer every day to just be still and know that He is God. I want to feast on His Word. I want to raise my children to KNOW Him. I want to trust Him with all I am and all I have. I pray for my beloved husband, Dave, to see his need for Jesus and give Him his life.

As I read through the bible this year, I have so many more questions than I ever have before. I was always to intend on knowing what I was supposed to know and would readily agree with my teachers. This time, I am digging in and am not afraid to consider the whole picture. I’m not afraid to ask, “Why?” I want a real, intimate knowledge of this Living Word. I don’t want to miss a thing!

Mrs.Oz (Alicia)'s Testimony

The first way God stepped into my life was to break the chain of my heritage. He saved me from being raised by my alcoholic father. Later my bio-dad said he was more married to Jack Daniel's than to my that gives you an idea. He eventually drank himself into stomach cancer and had to have his whole insides rerouted. So, though I eventually got to talk to him and it was a sweet reunion of a few years of calling and writing before his sudden death in 2006, God showed me love by plucking me out and letting my mom meet a very Godly man to marry when I was 5.
I remember getting ready to do down to the altar. I was 6 (born in 1976) so it had to be the end of '81 or in '82. I lived in southern Indiana at the time and the bible belt way of doing things was that you gave an altar call after every sermon. I have a vivid memory of standing at the end of my pew and looking down the sloping walkway that led to the altar. I think I even remember the preacher bending down and talking to me as I bowed my head.
Still, I went on from there riding the heels of my parents faith. God used that to teach me his ways and my dad was blessed with a love for wisdom so he stressed that in my upbringing. Proverbs was always in his conversation in my guidance. However, my folks also went through some very strange Christian movements in my growing up years that have led me backtracking to clean up my theology a bit. The major one was legalism. I think this was really what halted and nearly destroyed my faith because it went against my random and spontaneous personality. Thankfully, God sustained me and protected me through this time and was not content to let me think that was all there was to Him.
I was 15 when I went on my second Teen Missions trip to Russia. Our team went from Moscow to Khabarovsk on the eastern edge. We rode the Siberian Express from town to town to do evangelistic mime dramas. We were at the time in Irkutsk on the border of Mongolia. It was about halfway through our trip. Now, before this I had only been to Honduras and although it had made an impact on me, I was in a very selfish mode of my life and did not absorb as well the impact of the trip. But, here, in Russia, going from town to town and now being in one of the biggest towns we had been in and hearing the horror stories of the churches when they took their stand in the dark times years before, I was overwhelmed. Stories of raids on churches and the men being taken out and shot right in front of their wives and children. It shook me up. The faith I had claimed to have since childhood began to run through a test of it's validity in my mind. There could only be one solution, either it was real or it was not and if it was not, I was not wanting to lay my life down like that. Yet if it was real, I was not laying my life down enough for it now.
We stayed in churches. There were about 35 of us: boys, girls and leaders. Usually we stayed in the church on the floor of their sanctuary with a row of chairs to divide the boys and the girls. This night in Irkutsk, we had the girls below and the boys in the balcony above. It was a big church with lots of windows. I had been desperate to be off the ground so I put together eight chairs facing each other in rows of four to try to make a "bed". It was uncomfortable and I don't sleep well with light so I was restless and thinking a lot. It was still bright daylight because it stays light till after 10 pm there in the summer. I sat up and EVERYONE was sound asleep around me. Somehow in a room with 35 other people I sat and had an intimate moment with my Creator. I began to pray, and I prayed and I prayed and for the first time in my life I was delighted to pray. I realized for the first time that I needed God for my sin and that my parents faith didn't cover that. God became real to me that night and He became my treasure.
I went on growing up and had a few minor bumps (more like distractions) from this mountain top experience but my life was different after that. I began to pray about what my calling was, who I was to be faithful to until I married him etc. My heart was bent on His will as a delight rather than my programed and learned religion.
I got married at 20 and had my honeymoon baby days after turning 21 in 1997. I was a young mom and my life was different from there on out. God used parenting to keep me growing in my faith. I went through a really tough faith spot when the church I had grown up in went through an ugly split and we simultaneously had our second baby girl who had major colic. I had some real dark days but God was faithful. We got plugged back into a bible teaching church when she was six months old and my faith began to grow again.
In 2002 I was 20 weeks along with our baby boy when I began to labor and dilate. I was put on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. This was a sweet time between me and my Lord but a hard time on my family. My husband had to truck the girls (then almost 5 and almost 2) off to different families in our church all day because I was not to be up doing for them what they needed. It led to a hard time in our marriage as well as keeping the pregnancy became the focus of our lives and existence. God did some painful stretching of our faith in those times. I learned more fully how to trust him with my precious son's life growing inside me. I also knew that I could be in for an unhealthy birth and possibly disabled child. My husband and i both grew up with disabled siblings so I dealt with fears of that happening. God held my hand the whole way and I learned what it really felt like to trust.
Then there were some good years. Yeah! A healthy baby boy (though an awful birth story, but HE was okay!) and two beautiful girls. We went on with life and homeschooling and all the simple joys of young family life.
It was in this time that I got brave enough to reconnect with my bio-dad. It upset my mom and dad very much and that was very hard. I knew God was convicting me though to forgive and I wanted this man to know I forgave him. It turned out to be a blessing for me as we had about 2 years of some words and catching up. He had come to the Lord but was very much a baby Christian. We had some great conversations about life and God and I still thank the Lord for giving me that gift of time.
Then came the biggest moment of my growth in Christ and the catalyst into a whole different understanding of God and the Gospel than I had ever had before. In June of 2006 my dad, just about to turn 54, was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. A very aggressive cancer in his stomach. It was at stage 4 and there was little hope. They thought they could take out the stomach but when they got in to do the surgery, he was peppered all over the abdomen with it as well. The next year was the most grueling of my existence. His body was strong except for the caner and that only made it take him down to the very end of himself. I thought a lot of Job in these days. In the end he could not speak and then he could not look at us and open his eyes. Not being able to eat made him literally starve to death as well and watching that happen took me to the bottom of myself. Yet, in that time God stepped in and showed me new things about him that allowed me to have the best and truest conversations with my dad I had ever had. We only talked about deep stuff really because the temporal stuff became so meaningless. His faith was strong but he was SO sad to leave us and especially, it broke his heart to leave his only grandchildren who were then 3, 5 and 8. He had never had a son and my brother, having cerebral palsy (and though he loved him dearly and did all kinds of stuff with him) could not do the son sort of things a boy can usually do. So, us having a boy gave him so many excited plans for the future and he would talk about them. Then God said "no" and it was crushing.
I began to read Randy Alcorn's book "Heaven" and learned things I'd somehow missed in my Christian upbringing. I never knew God planned on making a new actual earth! There are lots of things I did not know. So, we would read together and talk together and talk about eternity. It was hard but so precious to me. My dad went to be with the Lord in May 15, 2007.
Then I was caught up for the next two years being there for my mom. She had a very hard time. The realization of the joy of eternity to come fed my spirit though this time like nothing I can describe. (In this time of my dad's illness, my bio-dad was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and died in 2006. I never got to meet him) I felt I could handle anything knowing what God had in mind for those who loved him. It gave me strength I needed to give back to my mom and homeschool my children.
Then, God called us into the public school and that is a whole different and amazing testimony. I won't bother you with here. He grew my faith so much through that time and finished cutting some ties I still had to the ways of legalism. I'm so grateful for that because it has taught me to be open to his will above my own and to seek his will above the opinion of others.
The last and most recent testimony of my walk I will try to keep short. God seemed to not be willing to let me rest with my delight and strength coming from the hope of his promises eternally. He has began to work on me now to teach me to get my enjoyment straight from Him. His gifts are amazing and they are to be felt and appreciated and anticipated but He is teaching me that He wants me to be emptied out of all but himself. I'm learning I have to stop trying to control situations and people. I'm learning the blessing of my being humbled. He is teaching me the obsession he wants me to have with Him. As if eternity was not enough and the delight it filled my heart with realizing it, He has even more for me!
A big part of a testimony is seeing where God has taken you. The further I go, the greater the delights become and all I can say is that if it gets better, you better believe I'm delighted to walk on and when I die, please play the Newsboys song "In Christ Alone" cause that is all I am or want to be.

"You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

January 29th Readings

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 35-37. Click here to read online.

Today we are continuing with Elihu's speech. As I still find the book of Job hard to understand, I did a little reading on what some commentaries had to say about these chapters. One was John Piper and the other was from

Both articles thought that Elihu was adding something new to the mix. The other 3 had run out of arguments to give to Job and their speeches were getting shorter and shorter. And then suddenly we have 6 chapters devoted to Elihu's speech - likely indicating it is significant.

Elihu's argument starts off similarly to the other 3, but with a significant difference. He says that when man sins God can deal with him in two ways - speaking to him in dreams or visions (33:16-18) or through suffering (33:19-22) in order to redeem him from the pit and to restore him (33:30). Elihu says that it is intolerable for Job to charge God with injustice as that is impossible (34:11-12). He directs Job's attention to his present sinful attitude due to his intense suffering (34:36-37, 36:21).

Elihu's point is that when the righteous suffer it is not for punishment reasons (like the wicked) but for refinement. The Lord teaches through suffering (36:13-16), but Job has not listened to God's instruction (36:17).

Elihu also says that God is not bound or limited by our expectations of Him. God is sovereign and He can do whatever He likes (34:29, 36:23).

Elihu states that because we cannot fathom God's ways, we cannot accuse Him of injustice and we need to wait patiently (36:26).

It is noteworthy that, later on, God does not chastise Elihu like He does the other 3 friends and even Job - so he obviously did have more wisdom to offer than the other friends in Job's distress - and yet even he was not quite on the mark.

Can't wait to read about God's response to Job coming up tomorrow and the day after! Tomorrow's readings are Job 38-40:5. Click here to read online.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday January 28th by Nicole

Today's readings are taken from Job 32:1-34:37

I am having trouble I guess you would say understanding the book of Job. I understand it, I mean what happened and why, but I'm confused about Job's responses and his friends' responses. At times I think that Job is stepping over the line and isn't being that faithful. To me he appears to be accusing God, so many of you and other people say he was faithful and true, maybe I'm just reading into it wrong? I know this was the other day's reading but in 30:20-22 he says God has turned on him, attacked him, tossed him about in the storm. That to me doesn't sound like someone who is being faithful. I know none of us are perfect, but that's where I'm struggling I think. Job is painted as some awesome saint who doesn't accuse or say a bad word against God, but here he has.

Anyway, on to today's. They introduce us to Elihu, a younger man who was listening to the other 3 friends talk and thinks has a wiser insight to why things have happened than Job's friends. I won't try to delve into it because I don't really understand it, so I'm looking forward to your insights!

One thing I have been thinking of though is a song called "Before the Morning" by Josh Wilson. You can watch a video about why he wrote the song. Its very very moving and encouraging and to me is about the faithfulness that we should have when faced with adversity. I especially love the verse about life not being a snapshot, I think that is what is hard about Job, his friends and even Job only saw a snapshot, they didn't know what was going on behind the scenes or what would happen which is why they responded the way they did.

Here are the lyrics

Do you wonder why you have to
Feel the things that hurt you
If there’s a God who loves you where is He now

Maybe there are things you can’t see

And all those things are happening
To bring a better ending
Someday somehow you’ll see you’ll see
Would you dare would you dare to believe

That you still have a reason to sing

Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling

It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming
So hold on you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling

It’s just the dark before the morning
My friend you know how this all ends

You know where you’re going

You just don’t know how you’ll get there

So say a prayer

And hold on cause there’s good for those who love God

But life is not a snapshot

It might take a little time but you’ll see the bigger picture

Once you feel the weight of glory

All your pain will fade to memory

It’s just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning

Tomorrow's reading are Job 35-37. Click here to read online.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27th readings and thoughts

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 30:1-31:40. Click here to read online.

Chapter 30
Job had been a man known for his integrity. His reputation was above reproach. Until now. Now, even the young men are mocking him. Not just young men, but young foolish men. And Job knows he has done nothing deserving this kind of treatment. How hard that must've been! Especially after all his conscious efforts to follow God.

Chapter 31
The consciousness of Job's efforts is one of the things that struck me about this passage.

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

Not only did Job purposefully avoid having an affair - he avoided even looking at a woman with lust. And he was so serious about this that he made a covenant with his eyes to not do it. And that is precisely how you do avoid having an affair! Sexual sin is definitely one of the most seductive sins. It is so easy to give in. To premarital sex especially I think. If you do not have a line firmly drawn, like Job did, it will be extremely difficult to maintain your purity. And extramarital affairs do not usually happen in an instant. It is often a continual pattern of small, poor decisions that add up to a one moment decision that changes your life and the lives of the people you love forever. The key is to not even make one of those first small mistakes. Protect your marriage, pray for your spouse, stay in the Word. And pray for the marriages of those around you.

Job 31:13-15 If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

What a great passage this is in regards to the sanctity of life. All human life!

It's a call to treat everyone with respect - no matter their gender, race, culture, status, etc. God formed the poorest soul in Africa just as surely as he formed the richest man in America. And neither is worth less or more than the other in His sight. They both have value because God made them, and because He made them in His image.

And, obviously, this is a great verse regarding the sanctity of unborn life as well. God forms us in the womb. He knows us. He knows every detail about our lives. He has created us unique from everyone else on this planet. And this clearly starts in the womb. At the moment of conception everything about us is imprinted on us already.

Job 31:24-25 reminds us not to put our trust in riches or status or power. This is another very easy sin to fall into. And we tend to justify it by saying that that's simply the way society is. It is not wrong to be wealthy or to have a powerful position in the company you work for. But it is wrong to put our trust in that wealth or power. It is wrong to strive for it at the expense of our relationship with God or our relationships with our families and even at the expense of taking care of ourselves for our bodies are the temple of God.

Other reminders in this passage include being honest (31:5-6), caring for those less fortunate (31:16-23), worshiping the creator and not creation (31:26-28), loving our enemies instead of gloating over their misfortunes (31:29-32), and confessing our sins (31:33-34).

And Job was intentional and conscious of doing all these things and avoiding all these sins.

And still disaster struck.

And still he remained faithful to God.

The fact that disaster still struck is a strong reminder to not put our hope in things of this world. Though it is obviously God's will for us to invest in the people around us, our hope should not be in them - it should be in God. He alone will always be there. We can never lose God. He will never leave us or forsake us.

We cannot take our stuff with us to heaven. We cannot take our money or our power. But our families and friends who believe in Jesus will be there with us. And that can give us hope to get through the tough times. We shouldn't place our hope in people (they cannot be the Holy Spirit to us, they will not be perfect, they will disappoint us even if only unintentionally). But we absolutely invest in them and love them. And thanks be to God for giving us the undeserved opportunity to worship Him together with them for eternity!

And the fact that Job remained faithful inspite of his life being destroyed before his very eyes is an inspiration for us to do the same, even if it's likely to be on a smaller scale. Chances are not many of us will experience devastation to the same degree Job did. If he can praise God in that storm, I will praise Him in mine.

Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

Tomorrow's readings are Job 32-34. Click here to read online.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26th - Guest Post by PamJ

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 26:1-29:25. Click here to read online.

Scripture: Job 27:3-4

as long as I have life within me,
the breath of God in my nostrils,
my lips will not speak wickedness,
and my tongue will utter no deceit.

Through all that happened to Job, he still acknowledges that God is still his breath of life. He has been stripped of all earthy possessions, most of his sons and daughters were killed, he has insomnia, therefore cannot sleep at night, and if he tries he has nightmares. His health was taken. Through all of this, he still remains loyal to the one who created him and the one who took it all away from him.

Knowing that it doesn’t matter how bad things may get, God is ALWAYS giving us that breath of life. We should be thankful for every moment of everyday and each moment is a gift from God. Just as easily as it was given to us, it can be taken away.

Lord I pray that, although things may not go the way we want them to, I pray that we will not utter deceit and continue to praise you. To be loyal to you. To remember who gave us the precious gifts we have. Most importantly the gift of your Son. You are an awesome God and I am forever thankful.

Tomorrow's readings are from Job 30:1-31:40. Click here to read online.

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25th Readings-Guest Post By Kristi

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 22 - 25. Click here to read online.

Chapter 22

Key Verses- "Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles...For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee..." Job 22: 22,23,27

What We Can Learn- In his last speech, Eliphaz gives Job his most vicious attack, but he also says some beautiful things about the forgiveness of God, even though it is directed at the wrong person. When we sin, we must recognize it as just that, sin. We must read God's Word, His commandments and wishes for our life, and hold them close to our heart. Meditate on them day and night. The closer we are to God, the better we see sin when we are confronted with it, and can call it what it is. If we turn away from our sin and back to God, he will build us up, and give us the power to resist the sin. He will always be willing to take us back into his open arms, no matter what we have done. God's forgiveness and mercy are completely unmeasurable. He is always waiting to hear our prayers of repentance and restore us unto righteousness. The peace that comes from being right with God, is unlike anything this world can offer.

Chapter 23

Key Verse- "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

What We Can Learn- Job was confident that no sin would be found in the fires of refinement, despite what his friends are still accusing him of. When we face God, our deeds will be tried by fire. Anything we have done in vain, or done selfishly will be burned to ash, to nothing. Only things we have done for God's honor and glory will survive the fire as Gold. Only the deeds which survive the fire will be rewarded. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15, 1 Peter 1:7) We should be ever conscious about our actions in life...what we are doing and why we are doing them. I wish I could speak with such certaincy as Job did when it comes to my own life!

Chapter 24

Key Verse- "And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?" Job 24:25

What We Can Learn- Job lists many crimes and criminal offenders and states that they seem to do these things with no judgement from God, or no intervention from Him. I'm sure he did feel that no one could disprove his thoughts. I think almost every Christian has related to Job's feeling here at one time or another. Almost all of us can also think of someone who carries on doing sinful things and has seemingly no retribution for their actions. Some even seem to be so much more blessed than, endless "good fortune, or luck", one great thing after another happening to them. It can be all to easy to get envious, jealous, or just down right angry. What really gets me is watching good Christian people struggle to conceive, or suffer many miscarriages while so many wicked people are having baby after baby and not taking care of them up, or even killing them. I've heard many people ask, "Where's God" "Why does He allow this to happen if He's such a loving God?"

We have to be so careful here. God doesn't cause the wickedness to happen, and He's never promised that all those who commit sins will be judged here on earth. Their judgment will come later...(Revelation 20: 11-15) Instead of being angry with them, we should be praying for them to get saved, since we know how devastating their end punishment will be if they don't. The bringing of sin into the world through Adam and Eve, is what caused all the horrible things that go on in this world. God didn't cause it, we did. He's not going to stop every bad thing from happening here on earth. What we also need to remember, and what Job's friends didn't know, is that not all trials and tragedy are a curse or punishment from God. Trials are the means by through which God's blessings can come, and how we are made to be more like Him. (Romans 3: 3-5) We should not always be looking for a way of escape. We should ask God what we can learn from the trial He has given us, and embrace them leaning on Him and using His grace and strength to get through it. (2 Corinthians 12:9) When it comes to temptation, God will not make us to bear more than we can handle, without giving us a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Chapter 25

Key Verse- "How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" Job 25:4

What We Can Learn- Bildad's short reply might indicate that his friends have exhausted all their answers or were just done arguing and putting forth accusations. He's basically saying in this chapter that if the moon and the stars are not pure in God's sight, how can Job who is like a worm hope to escape unscathed. But Job never claimed that he was without sin, he's just been saying that his current suffering was not incurred because of sin. Job's been saying that he's blameless in this situation. Since I won't be doing another post on this book, I want to leave you with a link to an article that I think sums up what we should learn from the life of Job...

Tomorrow's readings are from Job 26:1-29:25. Click here to read online.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More testimonies coming on Friday

For those who have not yet shared their testimonies, we're going to have another day of sharing this coming Friday, January 29th. Looking forward to getting to know you better!

Also - Nathan and I are leaving for our cruise on Saturday for 8 nights, so I will be unable to participate actively that week. I am going to read ahead and use the schedule post feature for my assigned days, but I will likely be unable to comment and discuss while onboard our ship. I will miss this fellowship and look forward to catching up when I return!

A huge thank you to those who have agreed to do extra posts for me while I am away - THANK YOU!

January 24th Readings

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 19:1-21:34. Click here to read online.

Today's readings pick up after Bildad is again insisting to Job that God is punishing him.

Job insists that he's been wronged, but declares that his redeemer lives (more on that in a moment).

Zophar reiterates once again that Job is wicked and God is making him suffer as a result of his wickedness.

Job argues that this is not necessarily the case as the wicked often do prosper in this life, that God does not always cause the wicked to suffer - insinuating that the opposite is also true, that all suffering is not due to wickedness.

The verses that jumped out at me....

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Wow! What an amazing faith Job had. We are reading this with the benefit of hindsight. We know that Jesus comes to earth, dies to pay the penalty for our sin and rises again. We know that the Bible promises that we, too, will be resurrected when Jesus returns once again. But Job did not have the benefit of all this hindsight. And yet he believes! Wholeheartedly, without doubt, and in the midst of his greatest torment!

My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C Mullins

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
and Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
and Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives:
Let all creations testify
Let this, life within me cry
I know my Redeemer lives, yeah.

The very same God that spins things in orbit
runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creations testify
Let this life within we cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives
To take away my shame
And He lives forever, I'll proclaim

That the payment for my sin
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive and
There's an empty grave.

And I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creations testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer,

I know my Redeemer
I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
I know that I know that I know that I know that I know my redeemer lives
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
I Know I know
He lives He lives yeah, yeah I spoke with him this morning
He lives He lives, the tomb is empty,
He lives I gotta tell everybody

Tomorrow's readings are Job 22 - 25. Click here to read online.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23 Readings-Pamela

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are from Job 15-18. Click here to read them online.

I am still have computer issues because of a broken laptop keyboard but am keeping up with the reading and following (and enjoying) your commentaries.

I decided to try a SOAP commentary today:

Scripture - Job 16:4-5

I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.

5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Observation - Trying to place ourselves into someone's situation does not always mean we can ever truly understand what they are going through.

Application - It is easy to think we know what others are going through and it is easy to judge others by their actions. Job implies that his friends' "fine speeches" and their "head shaking" are not the actions he would take if the situation was reversed and his friends were the ones suffering. I believe that Job would like to believe that "his mouth would encourage" but I think that until he was in that situation, he is not able to know what exactly he would do. Maybe Job is a better man than his friends and he would not have been trying to figure out what had caused such terrible suffering, but I believe it is human nature to try and find a cause and possibly even assign blame.

One thing I took from this passage was to be more of an encouragement to people facing trouble and to be less judgmental. It sounds like Job is looking for a listening ear or a kind word and all of the lectures and finger pointing just adds to the guilt he is already feeling wondering what he could have done to cause such pain. I am not saying that an obvious sin in a friend should be ignored, but maybe instead of trying to put ourselves into a friend's place ("Oh, if I were you, I would do this....") maybe we just need to listen and encourage. It is so easy to judge others and even if we are not saying it out loud, our hearts can be guilty of this.

Prayer - Dear Lord, we thank You that You are an all knowing God. You know our past, You know our present, and You know our future. You know our thoughts-spoken and unspoken-and unfortunately not all of our thoughts are encouraging or helpful to others. Thank you for Your word and the instructions in it. I thank You for the plans You have for each one of us and that You reveal Your plan in Your awesome timing. Help us to be an encouragement to those around us in our words and actions. Let us focus less on ourselves and what we would do and more of the needs of others. Lord, give us all the desire to be like Job, one who was hand-picked by God, who served as an example of triumph over adversity and an example of the perfectness of Your plan. Amen.

Tomorrow's readings are Job 19:1-21:34. Click here to read online.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22nd - SOAP

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are Job 12-14. Click here to read online.

Just a couple of comments about Job's "speech" overall.

Job acknowledges God's supreme power and wisdom and that no one can understand His ways. But Job knows this is not a punishment for some sin in his life. He doesn't know what it is, but he knows it's not that. His friends are right, in some ways, but their insights don't apply to Job's situation.

Yes, God does sometimes punish us for our sins (as we rightly deserve, btw!) - but that is not the case here.

Job's friends also seem to be motivated by their own moral superiority to Job - after all, they're prospering so they're obviously right, while Job's life is obviously an indicator that he's wrong. They're beginning to seem like they're more interested in winning this argument than in helping Job.

I think it's a good reminder for us to be less hasty to judge people and their situations, and be more willing to offer a listening ear. Job's friends were truly friends during that first whole week where they sat with him in silence and empathized with his suffering.

Does that mean we should never confront fellow believers about sin? No. Should we hold each other accountable? Absolutely! However, we need to make sure to deal with the plank in our own eye first and we need to make sure that we are motivated by love for our friend and a desire to see their relationship with God restored, and not by some puffed up sense of our own spirituality. We need to then share the truth in love and humility.

On with today's SOAP devotional.

S - Job 13:15a Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.

O - Job is at the end of himself. He has hit the lowest of lows. He has lost everything, except a seemingly bitter wife, including material possessions, wealth and ALL his children. He has also lost the respect of his peers, his "friends" are doing anything but comforting him. It seems hopeless. And yet Job is still able to declare "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him."

A - No matter what happens to us circumstantially in our lives, we can cling to the hope we have in God. He alone is worthy of that trust. He alone is faithful and trustworthy. We know that He has a plan for our lives and we need to trust in that knowledge even when it seems contradictory to what our senses are telling us. We need to remember that we usually see only the underside of the tapestry as God is weaving a beautiful picture that will one day be unveiled. It often does not make sense to us from our earthly viewpoint, but it does from a heavenly one. Sometimes He allows us glimpses of the finished tapestry, but more often than not we have to trust that the mess we're in right now, is contributing to the masterpiece that will be revealed in eternity.

P - Lord, I thank You for Your faithfulness to us that is unswerving, both when we are faithful to you and even when we are unfaithful to You. I praise You for Your trustworthiness even when we have fallen away. And I praise You for the hope that we can have in You no matter what our circumstances. Thank you that even when we don't understand what is happening, or why it is happening, that You are in control and that You WILL work all things together for good. Amen!

Tomorrow's readings are Job 15-18. Click here to read online.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21 Readings

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are Job 8-11. Click here to read online.

Today we start with Bildad's speech to Job. He rebukes Job again for his words (8:1-2) and reminds him that God is just (8:3). He says that his children sinned and were punished for their sin with death (8:4). Bildad encourages Job to repent, assuring him that God would then pour out His blessings on Job once again (8:5-7).

He then encourages Job to learn from the past generations for each person's life is too short to "learn from scratch" so to speak (8:8-10). The wicked will soon perish forever (8:11-19) but God will not forget a blameless man (8:20 - implying that Job is not blameless) and that God would restore Job assuming he repents (8:21-22).

Job basically agrees with Bildad but wonders who can possibly be truly righteous before God (9:1-2). No one can argue with God for He is too wise and powerful (9:3-13). God's power, Job says, makes God inaccessible, and that even if he were perfect he would be unable to answer God in the face of His power and might (9:14-20). Job continues to maintain his innocence, losing his desire to live, and concludes that God destroys both the righteous and the wicked and doesn't really care (9:21-24). Job feels absolutely hopeless - the days are going by without end in sight, why should he even bother to try since God has obviously condemned him unjustly, there's no way to reason with God and no mediator to help him and he longs for an end to come someway, somehow (9:25-35).

In utter pain he just gives vent to his questions and complaints (10:1-22).
- Why do You condemn me - why?! (10:2)
- Do You think it's a good thing to destroy Your own creation? (10:3)
- Are You having to search for my sin, like a mere man, even though You know I'm innocent? (10:4-7)
- Have you made me only to destroy me?
- Why did you even let me be born?
- Can't you just leave me alone and let me die?

Then Zophar steps in with his "words of wisdom". He claims that Job needs to be rebuked for mocking God and that Job is actually getting off easy, that Job has likely sinned so much that God's even forgotten some of it (11:1-6). He says that Job should quit trying to figure out the deep things of God. He can't do it anyway! (11:7-10) God sees the wickedness of man and responds appropriately (11:11). He calls Job a fool (11:12). And, finally, he reminds Job that if he will only repent of his sin, God will again lift him up and bless him, he'll be able to live in brightness, security and hope (11:13-19). But the wicked will not escape and their only hope is death (11:20).

Digging deeper
Job's friends truly think they are giving him sound advice. In their little world, God only punishes those who deserve it, and since Job is obviously being punished, he needs to repent and be restored to God.

But I want to focus mainly on Job's questioning of God in Chapter 10.

He's asking the "Why?" questions that we virtually all ask when bad things happen to us for no reason that we can see. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?

One of the problems with these questions is that we're coming at this from a wrong point of view. We think we deserve happiness. But we don't. We do not have a right to be happy. Our happiness is not God's focus and is not the meaning of life.

If I can be so bold as to assume I have the answer to what the meaning of life is, I believe it is this....

The meaning of life is to live our lives to bring glory and honour to God, drawing on the strength of the Holy Spirit as we strive to reflect Jesus ever more accurately to a watching world.

You see, asking "Why?" makes it all about us. And it's not all about us. (For a great read on this very topic check out Max Lucado's book titled It's Not About Me). It's about God. And God will do what He needs to do to work out His perfect will for our lives, for each other's lives, for the world.

Does God consider the loss of one person's physical life worth the trade if it results in even one person coming to know Him? Absolutely. And so should we. We need to live in light of eternity. We need to live trying to impact eternity.

Now, it's easy for me to say that from where I sit right now. I have all my children here with me, they are healthy and physically whole. I have a wonderful husband who cherishes me and is a fabulous father. I truly have blessings too numerous to count.

And though I am not sitting around waiting for disaster to strike, I know that every human on this planet goes through trials and I am no exception. Some people definitely do seem to have a much harder lot in life than others, that is true. But when troubles come (and they will) I want to remember Job's initial reaction - to remember that the Lord gives and the Lord takes a way, to praise God both for my circumstances and despite my circumstances.

I don't believe it is necessarily sinful to question God at all. It is human and God is strong enough to handle our questions. But I think the point that it becomes sinful is when we focus solely on ourselves and dwell in that pity party with no intent of moving beyond it. As long as we are focusing on Jesus, He will carry us through those dark times.

I think it would have been helpful for Job to have some Psalms to meditate on. We have entire Bible to help us through - Job never had that! 2 Psalms in particular stand out to me.

The first is the most well-known Psalm....

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides 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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

And another Psalm that I think is a great one to meditate on for those that struggle with depression. It just gets you focusing on your blessings and on the Lord.

Psalm 103
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourished like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children -
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Tomorrow's readings are Job 12-14. Click here to read online.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20 Readings

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are taken from Job 5:1 - 7:21. Click here to read online.

Today's readings continues with Eliphaz's first speech and has Job's response.

Eliphaz basically verbalizes what was simply accepted in those days - God is just and so therefore we are blessed for our righteousness and punished for our wickedness.
Job 4:7-9 Consider now; Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish.
To Eliphaz and his friends there appeared to be only two options
1) Job had sinned and God was justly punishing him for his sin
2) Job had not sinned and God was punishing him unjustly
Since #2 is virtually blasphemous, they logically conclude it must be #1, never considering that there could be an option #3.

And it is true that sometimes God punishes people for specific sins. The baby born as the result of King David's adultery with Bathsheba died (2 Sam 12:15-20). Another time 70,000 people died as the result of David taking a census against God's will (2 Sam 24:1-17). In the NT Ananias and Sapphira lied and were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11).

So, yes, sometimes God does punish people for their sins. But that doesn't mean that all suffering is a punishment for sin. After all, the troubling question isn't "Why do the wicked suffer?". The troubling question is "Why do the righteous suffer?" Now, obviously, no one is righteous all the time. But Job was considered an upright and blameless man by God Himself.

But Eliphaz refuses to believe that because he cannot fathom a reason for people to suffer unless it is as a punishment for sin.

Eliphaz warns Job about the danger of being foolishly angry with God (5:1-7) by cursing the day of his birth in the previous chapter. He encourages Job to seek God for God does great things (5:8-16) and he reminds Job of God's blessings on those who accepts the discipline of the Lord (5:17-26). Basically, he assumes Job is guilty of wrongdoing and instructs Job to repent and receive God's blessing.

Then Job responds to Eliphaz and defends his rash words as being prompted by grief (6:1-7) and again states his desire to die with his integrity still intact (6:8-13). He rebukes his friends (6:14-23) and challenges them to tell him exactly what sin he has committed to deserve this punishment (6:24-30). Job then continues to "complain" and asks God numerous questions about his suffering. Why is God terrifying him with dreams? Why is God testing him? Why can't God just leave him alone? How has he sinned? And if he has, why won't God forgive him?

The verses that struck me the most in this passage are
Job 7:17-18 What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?
contrasted with
Psalm 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

At first, they appear to be similar. And yet they are so very different. Reread the surrounding verses in Psalms along with verse 4 to give it it's proper context. Psalm 8:3-6When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.

In our passage, Job is distraught that he is getting so much attention from God, he's feeling haunted by God, and is frankly annoyed that God just won't leave him alone.

The psalmist, on the other hand, is in awe that the God who created the vast universe, could not only care for mere humans, but entrust us to care for the world He created!

Not that I blame Job - I don't even want to know how I would react under the same circumstances. But it is an excellent reminder that our perspective can sometimes skewer the way we perceive God.

God is not haunting us, He is not out to get us, He is not trying to make our lives miserable.

He loves us. And He is always with us. No matter our circumstances. He does not change. He was and is and always will be. Amen!

Tomorrow's readings are Job 8-11. Click here to read online.

I found an article about the first cycle of speeches in Job (chapters 4 - 14) which helped me to understand the passages a little better. You can read it here if you're interested.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19th - Guest Post by Miriam

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are taken from Job 1:1-4:21.  Click here to read online.

The book of Job seems to be WAY longer than it needs to be to get the point across.  It's 42 chapters long - and 35 chapters are devoted to theological discussion between Job and his friends!  It's so tempting just to skip to the end and say - "Great - here's what we learn from the story of Job."  However, that would defeat the purpose of reading the ENTIRE Bible, so I'm going to try really hard not to skip ahead and just concentrate on the chapters of today's reading.  I also read a commentary in order to give a little more flesh and form to some things that were vague impressions to me upon reading the passage initially.  It's very long, as it discusses the entire book of Job, but there is some great info in there.

Basically, the first two chapters contain the story of Job that we're used to hearing/reading.  Job was "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." (v. 1)  He was wealthy (blessed by God) and he had 10 children whom he loved.  I noticed that when God was speaking with Satan, it was GOD who brought up Job as an example.  Part of me was thinking "Shhh!  Quiet!"  I thought "Of course Satan is going to want to pick on Job, now that you've pointed him out!"   

Satan believed that men (Job in particular) followed God because God blessed them with wealth and material possessions.  In order to show Satan that this was not the case, everything was taken from Job.  All his wealth and possessions, and even his 10 precious children were all gone in one fell swoop.  I can't even imagine how anguished he must have been.  To lose one child must be a pain indescribable to bear, but to lose them all... And yet, Job says "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."  (1:21)  Satan was proven wrong. 

 But then, Satan is not satisfied - an excerpt from the commentary says:  
Even after Job remains firm in the first round of tests, Satan does not lose his confidence. His claim is, “stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face” (2:5). From the rest of the book, we know how wrong Satan was. On the other hand, God knew whether His servant would withstand the test or not, and so He takes up the challenge.
Job's response?  "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"  (2:10)

As an aside, one thing I really appreciated from the commentary  was the portion where it talks about Satan's limitations.
First, he works under the spatial limitations. Unlike God, Satan is not omnipresent.
Second, Satan cannot do anything without God’s permission. That means, unlike God, he is not omnipotent.
Third, he does not truly know Job’s heart and his true unselfish devotion to God. This indicates that Satan is not omniscient, as God is.

Sometimes, I think, we forget that Satan is not God's equal.  We give him more power than he really has by thinking that he is also a "god" when he is, in fact, a lesser spirit - a powerful one; we don't want to underestimate him - but he has no power beyond what God allows.  He understands human nature and takes full advantage of it wherever he can, but he doesn't see and know our hearts individually the way God does.

Getting back to the story, Job's friends show up.  I thought "Wow!  They must be really good friends to Job!  They wept aloud, tore their robes, and sat on the ground with him for a WHOLE WEEK without saying a word!"  Then Job expressed what he'd probably been thinking about for a good part of that week - he wished he'd never been born.  I can imagine I might feel that way too.  It must have seemed better to him at that time to be dead than to be suffering the way he was, not only physically, but also the terrible anguish of mourning for his children.   

The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" came to mind as I read of Job's cursing the day of his birth, and also the first few phrases of his friend Eliphaz's statements.  "Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands.  Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees."  (4:3-4)  Here was a man who felt things would have been better had he never lived, and here, I thought, was a friend who was saying "Think of all the good things that wouldn't have happened if you weren't here?"  But then, it soured.  His friend said "shouldn't your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?" (4:6)  In other words, someone who does good shouldn't have bad things happen to him.  "Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?  Where were the upright ever destroyed?  As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it."  (4:8)  So he's really saying to Job "If these terrible things are happening to you, you must have done something to deserve it.  God is punishing you for something."  Some friend! 

But we're all guilty of feeling this way at times, aren't we?  We say "What goes around, comes around."  We think "So-and-so got no more than what he deserved!"  And when something happens that we feel wasn't deserved, we scream "That's not fair!"  If something happens with no ready explanation, we always want to know "WHY?"  We, with our extremely limited human understanding, feel that cause and effect should always apply.  If you do A, then B will happen.  And often, it does.  

 But praise God and thank Him every day that it doesn't always!  If everything were fair and just, then none of us would have any hope of salvation.  We are all sinful and we all find ourselves doing things we know are wrong, even as Christians with the help of the Holy Spirit, in spite of our best intentions.  Only through the blood of Christ can we be saved.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves. 

As for that three-letter word that has caused such suffering and heartache for those of us who feel things should be fair, well, we don't always get to know why.  We can't say why a giant earthquake destroyed Haiti last week.  We may never know why in this lifetime, but we know in the meantime that when these things happen we are provided with the opportunity to help in whatever way we can or are led by the Holy Spirit.  Whether it's prayer, financial support, going down there physically to help, or something else, or all of the above, the opportunity to show God's love to others is in these things. 

And when something happens in our own lives that we can't comprehend, remember:

God is not bound by our expectations. We cannot fathom God’s ways, and we cannot comprehend His works fully. And so, we cannot blame God for injustice, but we submit to Him and wait patiently until He takes us out of the suffering and pain. It is better to submit than to demand explanation; it is better to fear Him than to be wise in our own eyes.

I hope I covered the most important stuff - there is so much to take from these passages, as you can see if you look at the commentary. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!

Tomorrow's readings are from Job 5:1 - 7:21.  Click here to read online.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18 Readings-Guest Post by Kristi

Today's readings from the Chronological Plan are taken from Genesis 47:28-50:26 which completes the book of Genesis! Click here to read online.

There is A LOT going on in today's section of scripture. I won't go over it all, as I am very tired and it would be a very, very long post! You all are welcome, as usual, to add notations and references in the comments section!

It starts out with Jacob making Joseph swear unto him, that he will bury him in the land that Abraham had purchased and that he, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah were already buried.

Then Jacob blesses Josephs son's. He gives the youngest a higher blessing, once again showing that is was ultimately rank, not origin that decided who it would go to. Joseph was bothered by this, and tried to correct his father as to who the oldest was, and who should get the blessing. Jacob told him that he knew who the eldest was! I find this so funny. We can only speculate as to Joseph's feelings here, but he was the younger who replaced Reuben. You would think he would have understood what his father was doing. But, he could of wanted it the way he would have done it with his own children, or he could have thought that Manasseh hadn't done anything wrong to be moved down in rank. He may not have wanted him to experience the jealousy that his brothers displayed to him. However, here their was no jealousy, bitterness or scheming! We don't know what he was thinking...I just think it's ironic, and I like to speculate about what might have been going through his mind.

The next chapter is full of prophecy from Jacob concerning his sons...the twelve tribes of Israel. He gathers them all and tells them what will come of them and their ancestry. There is so much here that can be commented on, and feel free Tammy, if you wish. However I feel the Lord leading me in a different direction today.

Chapter 50 starts of with the death of Jacob, and Joseph has him embalmed by his servants the physicians. Generally this is done by the embalmers and priests but Joseph may have wanted to avoid the magic and mysticism involved. Joseph asks Pharaoh to let him and his family take their father to the special land to be buried. It amazes me that Pharaoh let them go. It just shows the love and respect he had for Joseph, and how grateful he was for all Joseph had done for him. Joseph was a great God and those in greater authority than he. After many years pass, Joseph dies as well and he is embalmed, put into a coffin and buried in Egypt. His bones were transferred with his people to the Promised Land which we will read in Exodus and Joshua.

Digging Deeper
After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would show outward signs of hostility for them now that their father was gone. This is just ridiculous to me. After all he had done for them, and the tears he shed for them at their reunion, it just amazes me that their faith in him would be that little. This is humble and magnificent Joseph's reply;
"And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones." "And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them." Genesis 50:19-21 Joseph is by far my favorite person in the Old Testament. I can't wait to meet him when I get to heaven.
" thought evil...but God meant it unto good..."
This is one of the most comforting verses for me in the Bible. When we are faced with hard times, and horrible situations this brings great comfort. When we look around us at things that are going on in this world, this verse brings great comfort. It is hard to find the good in some situations and sometimes it seems that there is no end to the evil of this world, but God is ALWAYS in control! What we may only see as evil, can be used by God for good. We don't know the future and we don't know what things and events can be eventually used and turned into something great and wonderful! Joseph's brothers meant their actions to be for evil, but God meant them to be for good. God used their hatred and jealousy to save thousands of lives. Joseph's faithfulness to God and his servant heart that obeyed with optimism no matter what the situation brought physical salvation to many people and kept his family alive and gave them the ability to flourish and prosper together in Goshen. If we can just cling to this verse, and not be discouraged when we face hard times and see all this evil, despicable stuff going on around us...just keep our eyes on God and our focus on His will, He can use that for good!
Tomorrows readings are Job 1:1-4:2. Click here to read online.