Bible Study

Jan 2017
Less is More

As you continue to plow through Job, your long-held ideas are turned over much like the furrowed dirt. Our society strives for more. “More” is a god many worship because the eyes of man are never satisfied. Pause and reflect on less, though. Zophar mentions that God exacts of Job less than his iniquity deserves. Although his comment is tactless (in effect he is saying that all of Job’s suffering is a pittance compared to what he deserves), there is a spiritual truth.

God’s mercy and grace have exacted less than your sin requires. Ezra reminded the captives returning from Babylon to Jerusalem that God had punished them less than they deserved (Ezra 9:13). “It is of the Lord’s mercies,” Jeremiah exclaims, “that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Have you considered what you wold do if you were God for a day? You would no doubt like to shake the wicked off the earth like dust from a rug (Job 38:13). If the true God were to do that, He would be just to do so, and still, he would be dealing with our iniquity less than we deserve. Hence, the revelation of the eternal flame of Hell. Man’s iniquity deserves eternity in the Lake of Fire. Our sin requires torment forever in a fiery grave without respite. Now Job’s request for an arbiter becomes necessary.

“Neither is there any daysman betwixt us,” he cries (Job 9:33). But there is a daysman, an umpire, an arbiter. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Christ represents the humble, penitent sinner and declares, “My sacrifice covers their iniquity! Their account is purged and their credit is my righteousness.”

God certainly does great things past finding out and wonders without number (Job 9:10).  I have trusted in His mercy and my heart shall rejoice in His salvation. He hath not dealt with me after my sins. He hath dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13:5-6; 103:10)!

Less has become more—more than I deserve.

Jan 2017
It's a Wack-a-Mole Life

Sometimes life feels like a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole. It’s an absurd mental picture, but frightfully accurate. It seems once you begin to grasp one concept or perfect a skill, two other malicious moles poke their heads up into your life and chaos ensues again. We simply can’t get all the right answers at the same time.

Job and his friends had the same difficulties interpreting life. Man only has two hands and once we have a handle on two concepts, another flaunts its elusiveness. One commentator boiled the heavy wisdom in the book of Job down to three core thoughts. Think of a triangle where each point bears a concept.

  1. The first point – God is Just
  2. The second point – Life is Fair
  3. The third point – Job is Righteous

As these men wrestle with life’s most complex concepts, they can’t bring all three into alignment. Job claims he is righteous. If that’s true, the friends say, then life is not fair thus God is not Just. They insist God is just and life is fair, so Job has unconfessed sin bringing God’s wrath upon Him. As they keep whacking at the moles of logic they can never keep all three down.

True wisdom is to realize that the system by which God governs life as we know it is neither blind nor bound. To assume life is fair would mean we all have earned the ultimate consequences of destruction because of God’s absolute holiness and our unquestioned rebellion. However, there is such a thing as grace. God’s grace does not violate His justice. Instead, it gives eyes to his system which recognizes the robe of righteousness which is of Christ (Philippians 3:9) clothing every sinner who has humbled themselves before Him.

Also, the system is not bound. Man tends to only think within the boundaries of time and matter—this life. God’s sovereign decree often inserts into our present reality, but His work is greater and more grand. He works eternally. The godly man does not cease; the Lord shall keep them. Yes, the Lord shall preserve them from this generation forever (Psalm 12).

Jan 2017
The Noble Vessel

There is something majestic and romantic when you see an old wooden vessel. As it regally stands at attention in the harbor, imagine the life and experience of such a ship. Envision the exotic scenery, the splendid moments of valor it witnessed. Capture in your mind’s eye the torment of struggle in the squall of the terrifying sea storm. As some of these ships were eventually retired and dismantled, a writer documented how exquisite the lumber of these ships appeared. He tells of an oak beam from one ship which had been on the high seas for eighty years exhibited such coloring and distinctive grain it attracted the attention of many passerbyes in a local furniture shop. A mahogany beam which had sixty years experience with colors deepened and grain defined was compared to the artistic value of a Chinese vase.

What conditioned this timber into such a spectacle? It was not age alone. The “straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and the many kinds of cargoes” transformed the original bright fiber into something of esteemed value.

James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). You are that ship sailing on the seven seas of life. You face the hurricanes of tragedy, the gnawing of old age, the burdens of cares all which contribute to your exquisite character.

Suffering cannot be avoided. Eliphaz had that much right when he said, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

Suffering should be endured because it identifies us with Christ: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

Suffering fashions you into a vessel of honor which will one day be a display of God’s marvelous works (Job 5:9).

“The Lord trieth the righteous. In the Lord put I my trust” (Psalm 11:1, 5).

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

Jan 2017
Learning to Count

Which is heavier: a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?

Technically neither is heavier. They are both a pound, but we naturally attribute density to lead and lightness to feathers so lead seems heavier. When you consider one compliment versus one complaint, which is greater? They both total one. Considering they both come from valuable sources, our tendency is to ascribe more weight to the one complaint. All of a sudden, one complaint drowns one or one hundred compliments.

Crisis, Chaos, and Complaints always loom larger. They are the huge shadowy figures that cause us to duck our heads under the covers of safety. If we flick the light on, however, we will see the shadow is not the true form. The shadow was from a small figure in our life that appeared to be monstrous.

When the psalmist exclaims, “I will show forth all thy marvelous works,” he is instructing us in a lesson of counting. You see, we often forget how to count. Job knew how to count. “Shall we receive good from the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?” What Job experienced was traumatic. Let’s not trivialize it, but his response to his wife was a lesson of counting. In effect, Job was expressing, “If we ‘shew forth’ or number all of the Lord’s blessings to us, does none of it count once tragedy strikes? Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Nothing Job had was of his own power. He came into the world naked! Anything he enjoys in this life is simply the marvelous works of God. Job didn’t let the handful of crises reduce his balance in the bank of blessing to zero. There wasn’t a run on the bank in Job’s life.

In all this Job did not sin with his lips. What is the key? “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Job, more than most, had the grounds to feel forsaken. Forsaken is a zero balance in the bank of blessing. Because Job knew how to count his blessings, his initial response was to bless the name of the Lord. Which is greater: one blessing or one blow? When you count all the marvelous works of the Lord, you will realize God has not forsaken you.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as he have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Jan 2017
How Excellent is Thy Name

Seek first the kingdom of God. What was Christ telling us? How does that instruction look in a devoted believer’s life?

Let’s take man’s natural inclination (which is not to seek God’s kingdom) and visit Genesis 11. There you see the descendants of Noah gathered together in the city of Babel. Nimrod, the defiant, had established the city and created a kingdom. It culminated in the people making this declaration, “Let us make a name for ourselves!” So they built the city and a tower whose top was to pierce the heavens, so they may arrogantly announce, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God!”

Their resources combined to seek their own kingdom, yet the very thing they wanted to mount stirred wonder in the psalmist. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars…what is man?” Then the exclamation bursts from his lips, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” He was not seeking his own kingdom, but was admiring the kingdom of God.

When we seek our own kingdom, we see the world differently. We use our life differently. Our ambition is to leave a mark for posterity. Our aim is self-gratification. We see the world as ours for our own consumption. When we seek the kingdom of God, we desire His mark on our life. We marvel at His creative force and are compelled to worship Him in humility. It revolves around the name.

Are you busy making a name for yourself or are you consumed with the excellence and adoration of the name above all names?

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