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Showing posts from May, 2020

“Are you listening?”

BIBLE READING:Job 20-21
In chapter 20-21 Zophar enters the group and begins to speak and continues to condemn Job. He falls back on the on “knowledge” of the time about God. Zophar knows that he and Job share the common beliefs about God; that while the wicked may prosper for a time, they suffer in the end. Zophar says that Job’s blessings earlier indicated he had been doing righteous. However, his sufferings indicate some secret sins that Job kept hidden. Of course, God knows everything. Job says that their view of God by observed evidence, is simply an error. We today are reminded that this view of God is still seen by others. Many times a region suffers earthquakes or hurricanes, and right away some begin discussing what the victim must have done to have this befall them. Maybe the story of Job helps us to understand how all these things- life, suffering, and the nature of both God and man, relate to each other.

“God listens”

BIBLE READING:Job 18-19
Now Bildad takes up the attack it seems and applies even more pressure. In verses 5-21 he lists the terrors that the evil man fears. Bildad concludes with verse 21 “…Such is the place of one who knows not god.” Of course, we know that Bildad in his ignorance classifies Job as “an evil man.”In chapter 19 Job answers Bildad, “You have reproached me 10 times. (v.3) We know how we feel when accused wrongly. We are forced to defend ourselves. By his words, Job apparently blames God in his grief and confusion. He feels crushed by God and his friends don’t help him at all. He begs for pity. I am reminded of a friend whose husband was stricken with cancer, which finally took his life. She left the church and asked “Why? He was such a good man.” A preacher visited her and listened. She said, “Who can listen to me and understand?’ The preacher said, ‘Sister, tell it all to God first. He will listen.”

“Find Comfort”

BIBLE READING:Job 16-17
Chapter 16 JOB REPLIES TO ELIPHAZ: He calls his friends, ”miserable comforters” and refers to their long-winded speeches.” He speaks to God and reminds Him of what he has suffered from God’s hand. He tells God that He had turned him over to evil men. As Christians, we wonder whom Job is speaking of in verses 12-23. The words “witness,” “advocate,” and ‘intercessor” remind us as Christians of what Jesus Christ does for us. Job mentions the nearness of his own death- “a few years.” Surely if we were not in God’s family, Jesus’ church, the idea of death would be so hard to think about and to know it is coming. We are reminded that when some went away after Jesus’ teaching, in John 6 he speaks to Peter “Will you also go away?” Peter’s answer has two parts: “To whom shall we go?” and “You have words of eternal life.” Job of course, knew he needed THE SAVIOR. As we read, we want to cheer Job: Just wait! In chapter 17, Job continues to mourn his awful state, while stat…

"FAITH"

BIBLE READING:Job 14-15
In chapter 14, Job considers the question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” In the days of Job, as it must have been in the times of all men, death is a part of life that is troubling, even terrifying. But Job shows his faith. “You will call, and I will answer you.” How blessed are we who have been comforted and promised eternal life through God’s son! Chapter 15: Eliphaz, the Temanite speaks in chapter 15, not without a ting of anger. He and the others of Job’s friends seem to think that all these words about God’s nature, His actions, and man’s words about God’s nature, and man’s suffering, do not clarify things.Job must be wicked. God brings low the proud, after all, they reason.Eliphaz tries, in error, to convince Job that his own words are what condemns him. Eliphaz contrasts a wise man with the foolish man, and of course, he himself is the wise one. He states that the wise old man is “on our side.”

“Hope”

BIBLE READING:Job 11-13
Ch. 11: Zophar speaks to Job; “you deserve worse,” BUT “devote your heart to him…put away the sin that is in your hand.” Chapter 12: In the next several chapters, Job and his friends continue to discuss Job’s troubles and God as they know Him. If God punishes sinners, the friends conclude then there must be some secret sin that God knows, but they do not. In chapters 12 through 14, Job becomes more convinced that something is not adding up. Job knows God’s attributes, but he feels in his heart that he, himself, is right and his friends are being unfair. He is brought to tears over his loss of hope. Job calls his friends “worthless physicians” and wishes them to be silent. In our life, we too have experienced the feelings of “what have I done to deserve this?” We see Job’s knowledge of who God is and get a glimpse of his regard for God’s wisdom and power. He says in Chapter 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I have hope in him.” Our attitude of love, trust, and hu…

“A Plea to God”

BIBLE READING:Job 9-10
Some have called Job “The Book of Human Suffering.” However, a more complete title must include the idea that the concept of God’s nature and man’s relationship to Him is also a theme. Some scholars believe the book of Job reveals to the reader some characteristics of God that preceded Moses’ writing of the first 5 books of the Bible. By exploring the book of Job, the reader can see that Job and his friend might have an incomplete knowledge of God, they did have a measure of faith in Him. They also knew that they needed to lead moral lives. They knew Him as the Creator of the world and man. They knew him as one who rewards good and punishes evil. They knew Him as one is gracious and who may be approached through sacrifices. They knew that a sinful man may turn to Him in repentance. But they did not know all the mystery or realize that he cannot defend himself against the words of his friends. He seems to be thinking that Bildad speaks the truth, and he agrees tha…

“Don’t be Scared of Satan”

BIBLE READING:Job 1-4
If we are not careful, Job 1 can be a very scary reading.In this introductory chapter we find Satan lurking around this world, seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5.8).God is fully aware of what Satan is doing and willing to offer up His faithful servant Job as an example of someone who is living faithful.As the story unfolds, God allows Satan to take away almost everything that Job has: his family, his health, his wealth, and his reputation.Notice I said, “almost everything”, Job was left with his faith in God.Satan may be able to take away many things that we consider to be blessings, but he cannot take our faith.We alone have the power to decide whether we will hold to our faith or relinquish it. The scary part of the story is this, if God is willing to allow Satan to test Job, is He also willing to allow Satan to test me?I believe that is what the Bible teaches us not just here, but in many other places in Scripture.If God refused Satan the right to come after …

“Can You See Jesus in Me?”

BIBLE READING:Esther 8-10
According to secular history, King Ahasuerus was assassinated about 10 years later, in 465 BC, and we hear nothing else of Esther and Mordecai. But this short postscript contains a nugget of eternal truth. Mordecai became second in command, very much like 2 other believers in the Old Testament: Joseph in the Egyptian dynasty (Genesis 41:37) and Daniel in both the Babylonian and Medo-Persian empires (Daniel 6:28). All 3 of these men are small pictures of Jesus embedded in the Old Testament.Mordecai, “…was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.” (Esther 10.3). Mordecai’s actions provided salvation for the Jews during his short lifespan. Although there is no mention of Mordecai in the New Testament, we can see a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.Jesus too came seeking the good of His people, speaking peace to His kindred, all of mankind, and providing salvation fo…

“You Have A Choice”

BIBLE READING:Esther 4-7
When Mordecai had discovered the wicked plot of Haman to eradicate the Jews, Mordecai turned straight to God.Esther 4 describes how Mordecai “tore his clothes, put on sack cloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly” (Esther 4.1). That behavior describes what someone would do when they were overwhelmed with grief and pain.In fact, it is a common theme throughout the Old Testament to symbolize humility, remorse, and cry for God’s help. Although “God” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book of Esther, His fingerprints are all over it.As Mordecai informs Esther of the plot, he begins to see her situation as an opportunity instead of a problem.He encourages her to go before the King and ask for the king to reconsider his edict. He senses that Esther’s situation could be used an instrument of God’s providence.His words of encouragement to Esther, “who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4…

“Who is Haman?”

BIBLE READING:Esther 1-3
Who is Haman? He's suddenly introduced into the record here. What is behind the immediate antagonism that we find between Mordecai and Haman in the story? We get a clue in the parentage that's given for this man. He was Haman, the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite. What is an Agagite? Here we will need to do a little detective work. If you haven't learned the extreme excitement of studying your Bible as though you were Perry Mason, you've missed a great deal of life. You need to do much detective work in studying the Bible. The man is an Agagite. That means he is a descendant of a man named Agag. Where do you find Agag in the Scriptures? In the fifteenth chapter of First Samuel, we have the account of how King Saul, the first king of Israel, was ordered by Samuel, the prophet of God, to mount an expedition against the Amalekites, and we read in Chapter 15: And Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now t…

“Maybe it is Time to Clean House”

BIBLE READING:Nehemiah 11-13
Tobiah was an enemy. Let’s be clear about that. He wrote the book on intimidation, hounding Nehemiah and the Israelites at every step of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. Yet here he is, not only inside the walls of Jerusalem, but living in the temple itself. Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests. Nehemiah 13:4-5 The high priest provided a room for Tobiah. Nehemiah had been back in Persia serving the king, but when he returned about twelve years later, this is the terrible situation he discovered. He wasted no time in kicking Tobiah out. The question is, how did things get so bad? The clues are in th…

“Respecting the Word of God”

BIBLE READING:Nehemiah 8-10
The exiles that had returned must have been ecstatic by their ability to complete the walls of Jerusalem in only fifty-two days.The Bible says that they were able to do that because they had a “mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6).There seems to be somewhat of the same feelings and emotions that would later be present in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost and the establishment of the church.They all seem to be on the same page and were willing to share and make contributions to the work in Nehemiah 7.66-73.It also seems that they were not just interested in the physical aspects of completing the walls of the Jerusalem, but also in the spiritual aspects as we begin to read in Nehemiah 8.All the people gather together into the square of the city near the Water Gate and they ask Ezra the scribe to read from the Law of Moses.Ezra read the words of the Law of God given to Moses from morning till midday.As he read, the text reveals that “all the people were attentive to the b…

“The first English Samurai”

BIBLE READING:Nehemiah 1-4
William Adams (1564–1620) is believed to be the first Englishman to reach Japan. Taking a liking to Adams, the ruling Japanese shogun made him his interpreter and personal advisor concerning the Western powers. Eventually, Adams was presented with two swords with rank of a Samurai. This showed just how much the Japanese revered Adams. Because William Adams served his foreign king well, he was also rewarded with greater opportunity for influence. Centuries earlier, another man in a foreign country also had great influence over his king. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to Persian King Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:11). In the royal court, the cupbearer would test the wine before it was given to the king to protect him from poisoning. But this position also meant he had the king’s ear as a trusted advisor. Nehemiah’s integrity, administrative gifts, and wisdom made him a confidant to his ruler, which paved the way for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Like Nehemiah, each of…

“How willing are you to give up your sin?”

BIBLE READING:Ezra 9-10
As the book of Ezra draws to a close, the returned exiles have once again fell into the same trap that got them sent into Babylon at the first.Many of the men of the city did not separate themselves from the abominations of the Canaanites, Moabites and the other neighboring countries.Many of the men had even taken wives from the pagan nations, mixing the chosen lineage of Israel with unbelieving pagans.This had been a violation from the very first conquest of Canaan in the days of Joshua and had become one of the root causes of Israel’s drifting away from Jehovah to serve other gods.When Ezra heard this, he is so distraught that he pulled the hair our from his head and his beard, rent his clothes and fell on his knees in prayer begging for God’s forgiveness.In the end, the people are so convicted by their sin that they were willing to put away their wives that they had taken from among the pagan nations.How much are you willing to give up of you sin?Would you be…

“Are We living out the truth we believe in?”

BIBLE READING:Ezra 7-8
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10 ESV) Jesus, in Matthew 15:8, quoted Isaiah saying, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”. The scribes and Pharisees He was speaking of had substituted their own laws for those of God’s, simply giving lip-service to the Lord. We are guilty of the same when our actions do not follow the truth, but our lips declare we believe. When the way in which we live does not reflect our professed beliefs, I have news for you; we don’t really believe them! It’s like a man talking about the power of gravity, but then walking off of a cliff because he didn’t really think he would fall. When we don’t live out the truth we say we believe in, our faith is dead. For “as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). The life, the essence, is gone from our faith when we don’t li…

“Building Our Faith”

BIBLE READING:Ezra 4-6
As the exiles are beginning to go back into Jerusalem to begin to rebuild the Temple of the Lord, they are met with some resistance.Ezra 4 mentions that there were some of their adversaries that came near as to help them in the efforts to rebuild.Although it seems like a generous offer, most commentators agree that their intention was more selfish in nature. These adversaries would become what we will later refer to as the Samaritans.Their request to offer aid was denied by Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the fathers of the house of Israel.They knew that they were the ones who had received the commission to build the Temple for God through King Cyrus of Persia.After all, had they not remained there ever since the Temple’s destruction?If they were so intent upon helping, why haven’t they already begun the rebuilding process?All the evidence does suggest that their adversaries had something else in mind other than offering simple aid to help.Also, there is anoth…

“The Cyrus Cylinder”

BIBLE READING:Ezra 1-3
In 1879, archaeologists discovered a remarkable little item in an area now known as Iraq (biblical Babylon). Just 9 inches long, the Cyrus Cylinder records something that King Cyrus of Persia did 2,500 years ago. It says that Cyrus allowed a group of people to return to their homeland and rebuild their “holy cities.”It’s the same story told in Ezra 1. There we read that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” to make a proclamation (Ezra 1:1). And in that proclamation, Cyrus said he was releasing the captives in Babylon to go home to Jerusalem, re-establish their homes, and rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:2-5).But there’s more to the story. Daniel confessed his sins and his people’s sins and pleaded with God to end the Babylonian captivity (Da 9:1-27). In response to Daniel’s prayer, God sent an angel to speak to Daniel (Da 9:21). Later He moved Cyrus to release the Hebrews. (See also Jer. 25:11-1239:10.) Together, the Cyrus Cylinder and God’s Wor…

“Learning to do Right”

BIBLE READING:2 Chronicles 35-36
If everyone else jumps off a bridge would you jump, too? All of us have probably asked or been asked that question before. The heart of the question is this: Are you a leader or are you a follower? Because going with the flow is easy but thinking independently breaks the status quo. This was the same question Josiah had to wrestle with throughout his reign. Josiah saw things happening that were not pleasing to God. As the leader, he could follow in the footsteps of those who came before him and ignore it, or he could put a stop to the idolatry God abhorred. Not everything that is popular is going to be right. By destroying the idols, Josiah showed that he was willing to do what was right even if it wasn’t popular. And even though Josiah didn’t always get it right, his stand against idolatry is what he’s remembered for. “To this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments” (2 Chronicles 35:25). What we do today will determine how we…

“A Majority of One”

BIBLE READING:2 Chronicles 30-32
When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded Judah, Hezekiah knew that the city of Jerusalem would come under attack, so he went into action to defend the city. He built up the broken wall and raised up another outside of it. He also "made weapons and shields in abundance" and "set military captains over the people" (vv.5-6).But it would take more than that to save the city from the onslaught of the powerful armies of Sennacherib. So, Hezekiah called the people together to encourage them. In the face of their seemingly hopeless situation, he declared, "There are more with us than with him" (v.7).How could he say this? He gives the answer in the very next verse: "With [Sennacherib] is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles." That was their hope. Sennacherib had power, men, and prestige--"an arm of flesh"--but the inhabitants of Jerusalem had the Lord! Is there …

“Be Intentional”

BIBLE READING:2 Chronicles 27-29
This chapter is about a man whose success came from being intentional. Reigning while his leprous father was still alive, King Jotham had a challenging job. Although, because of his father’s shadow, he wasn’t the greatest king in Judah’s history, he was still considered a good king. He added on to the temple, strengthened the city walls, and made the kingdom of Assyria pay them tribute for three years! What was the source of Jotham’s strength? “So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”(2 Chronicles 27:6) Jotham was intentional. He made sure that everything he did was in line with what God wanted. We can’t be sure exactly how he decided, but we do know that Jotham made an effort to do things God’s way. How can you be intentional as you live from day to day? Just stop and think about it. I just did. I’ll be changing the way I begin my shift at my job here at college. What will you do to be intentional about living for …

“You Better Check Yo Self…”

BIBLE READING:2 Chronicles 24-26
At the young age of sixteen, Uzziah became the King of the nation of Judah.His rule is marked by several accomplishments, including the construction of some type of machine that was able to sling arrows and stones that could be used to protect the kingdom.Yet during his reign, he allowed all his accomplishments to go to his head.2 Chronicles 26.16 tell us “…when he was strong, he grew proud to our destruction.For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God…”.In his arrogance he thought it acceptable to go into the temple of the LORD and burn incense on the altar of incense.Of course, Azariah, the priest of the LORD, rushed into the Temple along with eighty other priests to withstand the king because of his sin.Just because he was King, did not give him the right to overrule a commandment that had been previously set by the Lord; that only the priests could offer the offerings in the temple.There is an old saying that says “Absolute power corrupt absolutely.”.…

“The Power of Influence”

BIBLE READING:2 Chronicles 21-23
All those years of training in good grammar couldn't stand up to a few hours of being with a friend who mangles the language. That was my observation recently as I overheard my second-grade son Steven talking with one of his friends. I had listened as Steven's buddy used poor English again and again. I was surprised by his word choices, but I was really taken aback when I heard Steven talking the same way. He doesn't usually talk like that -- at least he didn't until a little peer pressure got to him. It was another illustration of the power of others to change the way we think. We carefully guide our children to use proper speech patterns, but the influence of one friend can undo all that. Think about how this principle affects much more important choices. Consider Ahaziah in 2 Chronicles. He was influenced by his mother to do wrong (2 Chronicles 22:3). As a result, "He did evil in the sight of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 22:4). His …