Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31-The Greatness of God

August 31, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 37:1-39:30; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10;
Psalm 44:9-26; Proverbs 22:13

Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal. 
 ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Job 37:1-39:30

I love the Food Network channel on television.  If there is nothing else to watch, I can always count on being entertained, inspired, and taught by the Food Network programs.  One of the reasons it is so educational is that rather than talk about how to cook food, the television chefs are actually showing how to cook food.  The fact that a dish will turn out a certain way is not mysterious because one can see how they did it.  When the show is complete, you actually see the finished dish.  You understand the personality of the chef through the dish that they have created. Today, God finally presents Himself to Job.  God's approach to Job is to reveal His greatness through what He has created.


As our reading begins, Elihu finishes his monologue about God.  Now, the Big Guy, Himself, speaks up.  At this point in history when Job is alive, there is not a written Bible.  Job is alive during the time of the patriarchs, which includes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.  The Laws of Moses will not be written for hundreds of years.  It should not surprise us that God begins to teach Job about Himself where every good teacher must begin....the beginning.  God takes Job to the creation of the world in order to teach Job about the nature of the Being whom Job has been questioning and challenging.

Notice in Chapter 38 Verse 1 that God comes to Job in a whirlwind/tornado.  This would be terrifying.  Job is surely shaking in his boots.  God asks who would dare to question His wisdom with such ignorant words.  He then begins to ask Job a series of questions to display Job's ignorance.  These questions focus on where mankind was when God created the foundations of the earth.  Many people attempt through geology and fossil studies to expound upon the creation of the universe.  They try to explain the age of the earth and the methods by which the universe was created, but the fact of the matter is that no man was present at the creation of the universe, and no person can explain it.  This is God's point.  His greatness is beyond our comprehension.  The mere presence of what He has created establishes that He is great and we are not.
Here are some of the questions that God poses to Job to demonstrate Job's ignorance compared to God's knowledge. (I am summarizing some of these questions.)
  • What supports the earth in the heavens?
  • Why do the seas stay within certain boundaries?
  • Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?
  • From where does light come?
  • Does the rain have a father or does ice have a mother?  In other words, who created water?
  • Can you guide the constellations?
  • Can you make it rain?
  • Do you provide food for animals? 
  • Why are some creatures wild?  Who made them that way?
  • Did you give the horse his fearlessness and strength? Did you grant him with the ability to go into battle because of his courageous instincts?
  • Are you the one who made the hawk so that it can soar and spread its wings?
It is evident that mankind cannot create something from nothing.  As we invent new things like medical drugs, hybrid plants, nuclear weapons, etc. we have to rely on using the building blocks that were first created by God.  No person is able to make a bird from nothing.  We have figured out how to clone a creature, but in order to do this, we must use the DNA/building blocks of life created by God. 

What is the point?  God's greatness is established in His role as Creator.  We are speechless before Him. As the Apostle Paul states in Romans 1:20,
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been make, so that men are without excuse."
Job has no excuse.  He has no position in questioning God.

Do you question God and His goodness when you suffer?

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

Today, Paul gives us a key as to why he is able to suffer in his body without questioning God.  His teaching ties nicely into what Job is experiencing.  Paul has the benefit of having learned mysteries that were hidden to mankind during Job's days. Paul has been taught by Christ and commanded to teach the world about the concept of glorified bodies.

Paul explains that he considers the suffering in this "earthly tent," which is folding, to be temporary.  It is taken down when we die and we leave these bodies and will be given eternal bodies by God. It will be like putting on new clothing when we put on our new bodies.

Paul describes physical suffering as making as person want to not have a body at all.  I'm sure if you have ever known anyone who has suffered from cancer, you can relate to what Paul is saying.  The hope for the Christian lies in the knowledge that when we die, we slip out of this suffering body and receive a new restored, perfect body. 

Paul points out that he believes this with confidence because the Holy Spirit in his life acts as a guarantee of this truth.  He also states that he believes this without seeing it.  This is the essence of faith.

Paul ends by saying that we must all be judged by Christ, one day. He reminds us that we will receive what we deserve based on the good or evil that we have done in our bodies.  Remember, he is saying that in our body, we needed to have faith in Christ in order to be forgiven of the evil we have done.  With Christ's sacrificial death, our sins are forgiven.  When we stand before Christ as believers, we receive rewards for good works done in His name.  Unbelievers stand before Christ in punishment for their evil deeds. Either way, behavior matters.

Do you see your body as a tent that is folding?  Can you have a good attitude about suffering because of the prospect of a perfect heavenly body in the future?  This is how Paul was able to suffer well.

Psalm 44:9-26

Here is a psalm that describes the nation of Israel being out of step with her Creator.  The psalmist feels that God is asleep while they suffer.  Do you ever feel that way?

Proverbs 22:13

Lazy people have lots of excuses for why they can't get up and do something.  Do you know anyone who is like this?

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30- Who Is God?

August 30, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 34:1-36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12;
Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 22:10-12

Job 34:1-36:33

A number of years ago, Shirley McClain was on a big New Age kick.  She was being interviewed on television about her spiritual revelations.  She was involved with spirit guides and forms of spirituality that led her to some interesting conclusions.  Shirley had come to realize that she was god.  In fact, every person on earth was god, they just didn't know it.  In my opinion, there's really something wrong claiming you are god, but not being smart enough or aware enough to know it.  I was talking to my mother about this and told her that if I am god, we are all in BIG TROUBLE!  Today, Elihu talks to Job and his friends about who God really is.

Elihu puts himself in the position of teacher.  He encourages his listeners to discern what is right. The first thing he points out is that Job has a problem with arrogance.  This is the pride that we spoke about yesterday.  Elihu then begins to talk about the attributes of God.  Here are some of his points:
  • God does not sin. Vs. 11
  • God's Spirit keeps life going in the universe. Vs. 14
  • God is not a respecter of persons.  All are equal in His eyes. Vs. 19
  • God is just. Vs. 20-30
  • Our good behavior does not benefit God. Job 35:6-8
  • God listens and is concerned for His creation. Vs. 13-14
  • God is mighty and righteous. Job 36:5
  • God is all powerful. vs. 22
  • God is exalted above anything we can understand. vs. 26
Elihu has given a good picture of God, His sovereignty and omnipotence.  He has portrayed God as caring and just.  He is defending the Creator of the Universe.

If you had to defend God to someone, what would you say about Him?

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Paul is telling the Corinthians that his ministry is an honest one that does not include self-promotion.  Just as in our day, Paul had to deal with religious charlatans who were interested in elevating themselves among the people and making money.

In contrast, Paul's ministry was marked by trials and the threat of death.  Paul explains that the light of Christ seen in him shines forth from a perishable container.  Paul understands the weakness of his own body and sees that as a perfect way to show God's strength through his weakness.  You and I can learn from this attitude.  Our trials and our weakness in the face of trials is an opportunity for God to shine forth!  Does God shine forth in your trials?

Paul describes great persistence when he states that he is crushed, but not broken.  He is hunted down, but not abandoned by God. He is knocked down, but keeps going. When he suffers, he is sharing the death of Jesus, so that he can also share the resurrected life of Christ.  Paul's threat of death has brought the reality of eternal life to many people.

Do you view suffering in this way?  We can all learn from the Apostle Paul.

Psalm 44:1-8

Here is a psalm that worships God as the King of Israel.  His many deeds are recounted.

Proverbs 22:10-12

Certain people like mockers are trouble makers.  When you get rid of them, your troubles cease. God preserves knowledge on this earth.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29- The Problem With Pride

August 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 31:1-33:33; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18;
Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 22:8-9

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes. 
 ~John Ruskin

Job 31:1-33:33

Perhaps, you remember from your studies in school the myriad of cases throughout history where the pride of an individual leads that person to make a fatal mistake.  Perhaps a general forges ahead into battle, even though the odds are against him and his forces.  He forges ahead because of his pride.  Today, Job is on a roll.  He is a good man.  Perhaps, you could even call him a great man, but Job has one problem, he is prideful about his goodness.  Let's take a look at Job's heart...

As the reading begins, Job is furiously defending himself against the accusations of his friends.  He is tired of them proposing that his suffering is a result of his behavior.  Job lists the the areas where he considers himself without blame:
  • He has not lusted. Vs. 1
  • He has not lied. Vs. 5
  • He has not been seduced by a woman or lusted after a woman. Vs. 9-12
  • He has not refused to help the poor or crushed the hope of widows. Vs. 16-17
  • He has cared for orphans and not abused them. Vs. 18-21
  • He has not put his trust in money. Vs. 24-25
  • He has not worshiped the sun or the moon or made an idol. Vs. 26-28
  • He has not rejoiced at his enemy's misfortune. Vs. 29
  • He has never sought revenge. Vs. 30
  • He has always been hospitable to strangers. Vs. 32
  • He has been vulnerable and not hidden his sins. Vs. 34
Job cries out for someone who will listen to his defense.  With this, Job ends his argument before God.  Wow.  Could you proclaim even half of what Job was able to say about his personal integrity and holiness?  Job is an extremely impressive individual.  But, Job is bragging about all of this.  He is justifying himself before God with his good works and behavior.  Job has a problem.  His problem is pride.

Next, we meet Elihu.  He is apparently a young man who has been witnessing this intellectual sparing match.  He is completely angered at two things:  Job's claims of innocence and Job's friends' utter and complete ignorance.  As a young fellow, he held his tongue anticipating wise words from these elders.  In his view, his wait was futile.  Elihu proceeds to speak words of true wisdom to the group.  God has brought His Spirit upon this young man as a witness. Elihu speaks of God providing a special messenger from heaven who will intercede for man and declare him righteous because a ransom will have been paid.  Elihu would only be able to speak these words through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Elihu calls out for Job to be silent, so that he can teach Job wisdom.

Lessons:  Pride can get in the way of us seeing God's purposes.  A young person can be wise if the Holy Spirit is guiding that person's words.  Good works are a sign of faith, but humility before God is necessary, even if one has mastered personal holiness.

What is your pride level on a scale between 1 and 10?  How do you stack up to Job on personal holiness?

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Paul considers the Corinthians his spiritual children.  As well he should.  He is their spiritual father in the faith.  Today, Paul tells the Corinthians that their obedient lives, lived in faith, are a letter of recommendation to the world about Paul.  Do you realize that when you bring a person to faith in Christ, their subsequent walk of faith is a reflection of your influence and teaching?  Our earthly children are similar letters to the world of what we imparted to them.  Paul's teaching are written by the Holy Spirit on the hearts of the Corinthians.

The Law of Moses was etched in stone.  This Law sealed our death.  The gift of God in the new covenant is written on our hearts.  The New Covenant provides our eternal life. The New Covenant, therefore, creates bold confidence in the believer. Paul refers to a veil covering people's hearts as they hear the Law read aloud.  He contrasts that with the veil being lifted when one believes in Christ. We now are mirrors that reflect the bright glory of God to the world as we become more and more like Christ.

Lesson:  If you believe in Christ, you are a bright mirror that reflects God's glory on earth.  Job was that kind of man. 

Are you a bright mirror of God's glory?

Psalm 43:1-5

Vs. 3 says, "Send out your light and you truth; let them guide me.  Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live."

Proverbs 22:8-9

"Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor. " Job did this.

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28- A Companion To Ostriches

August 28, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 28:1-30:31; 2 Corinthians 2:12-17;
Psalm 42:1-11; Proverbs 22:7

He behaved like an ostrich and put his head in the sand, 
thereby exposing his thinking parts.
 ~George Carmen

Job 28:1-30:31

If I told you that someone I knew was acting like a jack ass, you would know what I meant.  I would be saying that the person was stubborn and hard to work with.  But, what if I told you that I was a companion of ostriches?  Do what? What the heck would I be saying?  Today, Job calls himself a companion to an ostrich.  We will examine what this means.

We are continuing with Job's latest response to his group of "comforters."  Job has proven to be a worthy intellectual opponent in the mind-fest that this experience has been. Yesterday, we saw that Job disproved his friend's theory about the wicked being punished on this earth and getting what they deserve.  Job rightly pointed out that the wicked often prosper while on the earth and die with their wealth intact. 

Today, Job launches into an eloquent talk on acquiring wisdom.  Job points out that men have learned to mine the earth for silver, gold and precious stones, but men do not know how to mine for wisdom.  Job describes wisdom as a pearl.  This is not a flippant illustration.  Job knows that pearls are formed under pressure and created because of friction and irritation.  They are developed in a living organism.  Only a small percentage of mollusks will ever form a pearl. A pearl is formed under trial.  Wisdom is rare and is also formed from trials.  It is the rare person who develops a pearl of wisdom when put through a trial.  Most people will complain, escape through drugs or alcohol, run from the trial or person causing the trial, but few endure the trial and develop wisdom through the trial.

Job rightly concludes that wisdom can only be found in the fear of the Lord.  Why is this?  Because God measured wisdom when He created the universe and it is through wisdom that all things are made and held together.  God's Mind is what is the glue in this universe.  As we approach God in fear, we begin to touch wisdom. Forsaking evil is when we begin to acquire understanding.  Endless sermons could  be written on this, but I am writing a blog...so, let's move on.

Next, we see Job lamenting his lost friendship with God.  It is during this section of reading that we again get a glimpse of Job as a shadow of Jesus Christ.  Here are some similarities to Christ:
  • In his suffering, Job is lamenting a lost relationship with God.  Jesus lamented his lost fellowship with God on the cross when He took on the sins of mankind.
  • Job helped the poor and the needy. (Job 29:11).  Jesus helped the poor and needy.
  • Job caused the widow's heart to sing. (Vs. 13-14).  Christ did, too.
  • Job wore a robe of righteousness and a crown of justice. (Vs. 14)  Oh, my.  What a statement.  Job would have achieved this through faith in the Messiah.  Jesus is our wardrobe provider.
  • Job served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. (Vs. 15).  Jesus healed the blind and the lame.
  • Job was a father to the poor and a friend to the foreigner.  (Vs. 16)  Jesus is the author of grace to the poor and the foreigner.
  • Job taught his community about truth. (Vs. 21-24).  Jesus was the greatest teacher of all.
  • Job lived as a king among his troops. (Vs. 25).  Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
  • Job is now mocked as he suffers. (Job 30:1) Jesus was mocked by outcasts.
  • Job is despised, reviled and spit upon. (Vs. 10).  Jesus was, too.
  • Job's heart is breaking. (Vs. 16).  Jesus died of a broken heart.
  • God, Himself, is allowing Job's suffering. (Vs. 17-28).  God allowed Jesus, His Son, to suffer and die for others.
Finally, we get to Job's conclusion.  His suffering and isolation has made him a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches.  A quick google search of ostriches will tell you that they are a desert creature.  They do not actually stick their heads in the sand.  That is a myth.  They do, however, live in a wilderness.  This is what Job is talking about.  He is in the wilderness.  Somehow, after reading this much of the Bible, I am not surprised by this.

God is allowing Job to learn in the wilderness.  God is forming a pearl of wisdom in this man's life.  I know that Job's suffering is beyond comprehension, but his blessings were also beyond comprehension.  Job lived a very big and rich life.  He did everything full force.  It makes sense that his suffering would be on a grand scale.  Job is a shadow of Jesus Christ.  He is a worthy servant of God and worthy to suffer well.  Can you wrap your mind around that?

Are you worthy to suffer well for God?  Do your wilderness experiences develop pearls of wisdom in your life or buckets of bitterness?  Your behavior matters. The choice is yours.

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Paul gives us a powerful description today.  He describes those who bring the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ as a perfume.  The interesting thing about this perfume is that it smells different to people according to who they are in God's story.  If you are a person who loves God and is seeking His Truth, Paul's message of the gospel smells like a life-giving sweet fragrance.  If you do not love God and are in rebellion against Him, the gospel smells like the putrid smell of death and decay.  The gospel is repulsive to those who hate God.

Paul distinguishes that some people preach the gospel to make money.  He says that he and his companions aren't like those people.  He preaches with sincerity and with the authority of Christ, knowing that his actions are being watched by God.

Do you realize that you are being watched by God?  He analyzes your motives each day.  Let this be a reminder to each of us to live in accordance with His Word.

Psalm 42:1-11

Job was speaking of being a companion of ostriches in the desert wilderness.  Today's psalm speaks of panting for God like a deer pants for water.  How perfect!  Are you thirsty for God?  He gives Living Water that flows freely and forever!

Proverbs 22:7

Here is an important financial truth:  The borrower is the servant to the lender.  Are you a borrower?  Most of us are.

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27- I Have Treasured His Word In My Heart

August 27, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 23:1-27:23; 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11;
Psalm 41:1-13; Proverbs 22:5-6

Christ's riches are unsearchable, and this doctrine of the gospel 
is the field in which this treasure is hidden. 
~Thomas Goodwin

Job 23:1-27:23

Today, Job is groaning about not knowing how to get in contact with God.  He says that if he could find God's throne, he would go there, talk with God, and lay out his case before God. Job reveals that he believes God is a good and fair judge.  This is a sign of faith. Job is beginning to understand that he is being tested.  He states that after God has tested him with fire like pure gold, he will find him innocent. (Vs. 10) The reason Job believes that he will be found innocent is because Job has not strayed from God's path, but has treasured God's Word in his heart.  This is big, y'all.  God's Word at this time in history had to be from oral tradition, but this does not diminish it's truth.  From the Garden of Eden to our present day, God's Word has held the universe together and has been available to mankind.  Job is a believer in God's Word.  Are you?

Job shows that unlike what Eliphaz accused him of, he is compassionate towards the poor and needy. He is quite eloquent in his description of their plight on earth.

Bildad weighs in with a short discourse on God's glory and man's lowliness before Him.

Job responds that Bildad has never helped the powerless. Job then launches into a beautiful sequence on God's omnipotence in creation.  Job vows to never speak evil or lie. He maintains his innocence before God and man. Job speaks of the judgment of the wicked and does not include himself among those who will be punished.

Job is steadfast in his faith and in his desire for righteousness.  He reveals compassion and understanding of God.  I am amazed at his strength and fortitude in the midst of his suffering.  This verbal debate with his friends appears to have caused his soul to rally.

What causes your soul to rally?

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

Paul sounds like Job, here.  He states that he has a clear conscience with regards to his dealings with people. He acknowledges that he has relied on God's grace, rather than on earthly wisdom.

Paul is explaining why he has not come to visit the Corinthians.  In the process, he says that Jesus is the divine "Yes" in the world.  I like that.  Jesus is God's "Yes" to the problem of sin and broken fellowship with mankind.

Paul discusses not coming to Corinth because he wanted to rebuke them in writing, rather than in person.  He did not want to hurt them.  Now, he discusses the man who caused so much trouble in the Corinthian church because of his sin.  Paul encourages the church to forgive the man and comfort him.  This is a means of restoring this man to fellowship with God and man.  Forgiveness is a means of outsmarting Satan.  Paul is all for that!

Do you outsmart Satan in your life by forgiving those who need forgiveness?

Psalm 41:1-13

This psalm speaks of the joys of helping the poor.  Do you help those who are in need?

Proverbs 22:5-6

Teach your children to chose the right path.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26- More Accusations

August 26, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 20:1-22:30; 2 Corinthians 1:1-11;
Psalm 40:11-17; Proverbs 22:2-4

The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie. 
~Ann Landers

Job 20:1-22:30

Have you ever had someone tell lies about you?  For whatever reason, they are spreading gossip and lies that have nothing to do with reality?  This is the position that Job is in today.

Our reading starts with Zophar, who does not have much that is new to add to the mix.  He continues down the same argument that the wicked get what is coming to them and then they are punished and perish.

Job counters that actually, the wicked appear to prosper on the earth. He says that rather than dying young, the wicked live to a ripe old age and grow wealthy. They appear to get away with rejecting God, at least while they are alive on the earth. Job challenges God by saying that it would be more just if God would punish the wicked while they are alive. Job concludes by saying that Zophar's words do not comfort him because Zophar's words are wrong!

Next, we have Eliphaz who decides to really bring the hammer down on Job.  I am beginning to think that Job is a shadow of Christ in suffering.  This time, Job's friend falsely accuses him.  Here is what Eliphaz accuses Job of:
  • Lending money to a friend and keeping the clothing he pledged. Vs. 6
  • Refusing to give water to the thirsty because he believes that everything belongs to the powerful. Vs. 7
  • Sending widows away without helping them and crushing orphans. Vs. 8
  • Forgetting that God is the one who blessed him. Vs. 18
  • Lusting after money. Vs. 24
These are stunning accusations.  Can you imagine being accused of these things?  Poor Job. Job is a picture of what Christ will endure. We get a glimpse into how Jesus felt at his trials.  Sometimes, people lie about you.  This is a form of suffering.

How do you handle suffering?

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

As we begin this new letter to the Corinthians, Paul still has not come to visit this church that he started.  They were an immature group of Christians.  In his first letter to them, the Apostle Paul gave instruction and correction.  Through Titus, Paul has learned that the Corinthians have taken his advice and been obedient.

In his second letter, Paul opens up to this obedient group.  We see his heart and his struggles.  As the letter begins, we see that suffering is on Paul's mind.  That fits nicely with our study of Job. Paul's theme is that God comforts us in our trials, so that we can comfort others when they have trials.  I bet Job would have liked for his godless friends to understand this concept!

Paul assures the Corinthians that the more one suffers for Christ, the more one will receive comfort through Christ. If you share in the suffering, you will also share in the comfort.  Paul relays that he was under great suffering in Asia, even to the point of being crushed and completely overwhelmed.  He relates that going through this, he learned to rely not on himself, but to rely on God who is able to raise the dead!  Paul felt like a dead man, and God raised him out of his troubles.  Paul acknowledges that the prayers of the Corinthians helped him.

Do you realize that God can raise you out of your troubles?  Do you find comfort from God in the midst of your suffering?  Do you help others who are suffering because you have experienced it?

Psalm 40:11-17

This psalm speaks of being surrounded by troubles.  The psalmist cries out for God to rescue him! Vs. 17 states that the Lord is thinking about the writer of this psalm.  It confirms that God is our helper.

Proverbs 22:2-4

God does make both the rich and the poor. Prudence leads to wise choices. True humility before the Lord leads to blessings.

What did you see today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25- My Redeemer Lives

August 25, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 16:1-19:29; 1 Corinthians 16:1-24;
Psalm 40:1-10; Proverbs 22:1

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head.
~Traditional Hymn

Job 16:1-19:29

Road trips can be boring.  As a child, my family took many road trips. As we rode along in the family station wagon,  the monotony of road travel would often be broken by weather conditions.  If you have ever driven across the country, you know that the weather can create harrowing experiences.  Once when I was young, my family was in some portion of the country where the sun was shining and everything was going great.  Then, out of nowhere,  clouds gathered, the atmosphere changed, and we drove into a deep fog.  My father could not see one foot in front of our car bumper.  Would we hit another car or drive off of the road?  We didn't know.  Eventually, after much fear, the fog cleared and we went on our way with sighs of relief.  Yesterday, we learned that one of the keys to enduring suffering is to have the hope of resurrection.  Today, in the midst of foggy suffering, Job finds some clarity.

There are three rounds of intellectual debate between Job and his friends.  We are in the middle of round two.  Job declares that his friends are miserable comforters.  He's got that right. Job states that if he were trying to comfort a friend, he would not spout off criticisms of that friend.  Job incorrectly states that God hates him.  Job is being smashed and dashed, but it is by Satan, not by God. Job once again cries out for an Advocate.  His faith leads him to know that he has someone on high who is on his side. Although his friends scorn him, Job is confident that there is a person who will mediate between himself and God.

As I read the section on Job's suffering today, it struck me how Christ-like the descriptions were. Job is crushed, mocked, spit upon, bitterly taunted, an object of scorn and astonishment, and prepared for the grave.

At this point, Bildad pipes up to reemphasize that the wicked walk into nets of their own making. They have trouble at every step, and Job must be wicked.

Job questions how long he must be tortured by the words of his friends.  He wonders aloud how long they will try to break him with their words. He asks that they not judge him, even if he has sinned. Job is steadfast in believing that he has not done anything to deserve this punishment from God. He describes himself as a city under siege. He has become loathsome, even to his own family.  He describes his breath as repulsive to his wife. We see a Christ-like rejection of Job by friends and family.  All have turned against him.  He is utterly destitute.  Christ faced this situation and suffering with humility.  Christ did not lash out against his enemies.  We see that Job does complain about his suffering.  Job defends himself and spars with his adversaries. This is where we see the chink in Job's armor.  He does not have the humility of Christ.

Job is a man who is familiar with the promise made to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Humanity has been promised a Redeemer Child, who will defeat the Serpent.  Now, we have a marvelous statement of faith by a man who is being crushed by his circumstances,
"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last.  And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself.  Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.  I am overwhelmed at the thought!"  
Job 19:25-27 NLT
Remember that the Bible tells us that the righteous are saved by faith, alone.  With this statement by Job, we see that he is, indeed, in a righteous position before God.  He is not wicked as his friends state, because his faith in God makes him righteous before God.  This does not mean that he is sinless.  It does not mean that there are not things that Job must learn, but Job believes in a Redeemer, who will come and stand upon the earth.  This Redeemer will provide redemption and resurrection for Job.  Even after he dies, Job believes that in a new body, he will see God, face to face.  Job was a Christian, my friends!  Job's faith in God saves him.

Job has found clarity in the fog of suffering.

Do you share Job's faith?  Do anticipate having a body after your earthly body has decayed in the grave?  Will you live face to face with your Creator?

1 Corinthians 16:1-24

Today, Paul ends the first letter to the Corinthians.  He takes care of some details like how to collect money for the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  There are plans for a future visit.  Timothy is being sent to minister to them.

Paul admonishes the Corinthians to stand firm and stand in love. He sends greetings from other Christians and we see some familiar names with Apollos, Aquila, and Priscilla.  We get insight into the fact that Christians are meeting in people's homes for their churches.  There is a sense that as the faith spreads, Christians must help one another to grow in knowledge and love.

Do you help other Christians grow in knowledge and love?

Psalm 40:1-10

Again, I picture Job as I read these words.  Amazing.

Proverbs 22:1

This proverb speaks of the importance of a good reputation.  Think about how Job is attempting to keep his good reputation.

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24- Arguing The Case and Trying to Find Hope

August 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Job 12:1-15:35; 1 Corinthians 15:29-58;
Psalm 39:1-13; Proverbs 21:30-31

A lawyer's dream of heaven: every man reclaims his property at the resurrection, 
and each tries to recover it from all of his forefathers.  
~Samuel Butler

Job 12:1-15:35

You and I are in a privileged position.  We get to approach the larger questions that haunt humanity with the benefit of having a book, written by the inspiration of God, that explains God's purposes on earth.  These are large looming questions like "Why do we suffer?", "How can I know God?" , "What is my purpose on earth?", "What is the point of all of this?", and "What happens to us when we die?"  These questions can be answered by reading the Bible.  Job and his friends do not have the benefit of Scripture.  We can see that their relationship to God is more tortured and murky.

Job is ready to answer Zophar.  His words are dripping with sarcasm as he proposes that all wisdom will die when Zophar dies.  Job is prepared to give Zophar a verbal smack down. Job tells Zophar that he (Job) is righteous and a man to whom God listens.  But Job acknowledges that if God closes in on you, there is no where to escape. Job acknowledges that God raises up nations and can destroy them.  Job even prophesies about a future king who will have his understanding taken away and will wander in the wasteland, staggering like a drunkard.  This actually happens to King Nebuchadnezzar!

Job yearns to argue his case before the Almighty. Job claims that his friends are like doctors who are really quacks.  They are fake in their spirituality.  He says that the smartest thing they can do in this intellectual battle is be quiet!  KA-POW!

Job states that they are trying to argue God's position in this legal trial, but they are not equipped to do so.  Job is right, by the way. Job declares that he is NOT godless.  He is confident that he can be proved innocent.  Remember, these men have accused him of some secret sin.  Job is arguing that he has no secret sin.

Job asks God to please show him what his sin and rebellion have been. He does not understand why he is being put in a position of being God's enemy.  We see here that Job is approaching God from a wrong perspective, but we cannot blame him.  He has no other way of knowing any different. He feels that God is doing this to him from an antagonistic position.  God is not. 

Job then argues that he cannot be blamed for being sinful.  All humans are frail.  Purity cannot come from that which is impure.  How right Job is!!!  He gets it, folks.  Job acknowledges that God knows the number of days that we will live, but that a tree has the hope of new life because of seedlings.  Job wants to know why human beings don't have the hope of new life!!  Do you see how God has put innate wisdom in this man?  Without the help of Scriptures, Job is using the pictures in nature to understand that man must have the capacity for resurrected life.  Job asks, "If mortals die, can they live again?" Job 14:14  Job then has a very profound thought.  Here it is.  If I had the hope that I could live again, I would be able to endure my suffering and await my release (in death).  People, Job has just given us a key to how to handle suffering.  We humbly wait for our release and future resurrection!!!  Job adds that it would be nice to have his sins sealed in a pouch!  Jesus did that for you and me.  He did it for Job, too.  Job is pining for a future Messiah.  God knows this.

May I say that Job's idiot friend, Eliphaz, opens his big mouth, again.  This time, he officially calls Job a windbag.  He claims that Job's hopes are foolish. Eliphaz claims to be more mature and able to discern wisdom because of his age. He then claims that wicked people suffer.  His premise is that wicked people get their punishment in this life, not in an after life.  Eliphaz is wrong. Also, he is implying that Job is godless and wicked.  He thinks Job needs to 'fess up.

What do you think of the fact that suffering has led Job to desire resurrection?  He says that the hope of eternal life would help him endure his present suffering.  Have you ever thought about the reality of a resurrection of your body helping you to get through tough times in this earthly body?  Job is wise. We can learn from his spiritual journey.

1 Corinthians 15:29-58

Well, what do ya know...Paul is talking about resurrection.  I wish this had been written during Job's lifetime.  He would have known some of the answers to the questions he was asking. He would have had that "hope" that he so desperately needed.

Paul says that there is no reason to participate in baptism if there is no resurrection.  By the way, Paul is arguing this case for hope to some of the Corinthians who are tempted to not believe in life after death.  Baptism pictures going down into death with Jesus and then being raised up to new life with Him.

Paul argues that he is willing to risk his life for the faith and for Christ precisely because he has the hope of resurrection.   Here are some lessons about resurrection from Paul.  Listen closely:
  • Seeds go into the ground and a new plant emerges after the seed is buried and dies. vs. 36
  • You put a seed, not the plant, into the ground.  It does not look like what it will become. vs. 37
  • Each seed is different and will produce a different type of plant. vs. 38
  • Heavenly bodies are different from earthly bodies. vs. 40
  • Heavenly bodies come forth after earthly bodies die and are planted in the ground. vs. 42
  • Resurrected bodies can never die. vs. 42
  • Resurrected bodies will be powerful and glorious.  vs. 43
  • They will be spiritual bodies, not natural bodies. vs. 44
  • Adam was made of dust.  Christ has come from heaven. vs. 47
  • Our earthly bodies come from Adam. Our heavenly bodies come from Christ. vs. 48-49
  • Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. vs. 50
  • Some people will not die, but will be transformed into this heavenly body. vs. 51
  • Any Christian living at the last trumpet will be transformed, while Christians who have died will be raised from death to receive their new bodies. vs. 52
  • It is at Christ's last call that death will finally be defeated.vs. 54
Paul concludes by saying that sin brings death.  The law brings awareness of sin and gives sin its power. But Jesus gives us victory over sin and death!  Paul then tells us something very encouraging.  This would have helped Job...because of this victory over death and sin, because of resurrection and the ability to enter heaven with immortal bodies, it makes everything you go through on earth worthwhile.

Oh, the beauty and continuity of God's Truth!!

Psalm 39:1-13

Think of Job, again, as you read these words.

Proverbs 21:30-31

"Human plans, no matter how wise or well advised, cannot stand against the Lord."  Job knows something about this!

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23- The Mediator

August 23, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 8:1-11:20; 1 Corinthians 15:1-28;
Psalm 38:1-22; Proverbs 21:28-29

Nothing is more indispensable to true religiosity than a mediator that links us with divinity. 
~Novalis

 
Job 8:1-11:20

I once knew a woman who was in law school.  After studying the law and contemplating becoming the person who would initiate conflicts with others including  Christians, she thought about taking her legal knowledge and becoming a mediator.  The role of a mediator is to bring two parties together to settle a dispute in order to prevent going to court over the conflict.  My friend anticipated being a peacemaker, rather than a person who files lawsuits.  Today, Job feels he is suffering because something has put him in conflict with God.  He realizes that he is at a great disadvantage in this perceived fight.  Sick of suffering and unable to communicate with an invisible foe, Job cries out for a mediator.

Can you imagine losing all of your material possessions, having all of your children die in one day, being afflicted with an illness that is going to kill you, and then having your friends come over to comfort you and instead, they end up telling you that you are a liar who has obviously got some secret sin that has caused you to be in this situation?  This is the predicament in which Job finds himself. 

In his day and age, people would gather for intellectual discourse.  It was a form of sport, kind of like watching a basketball game, only they would watch smart people eloquently discuss a topic and bring up good points.  The participants would try to out think and out speak each other.  We don't do that nowadays.  Occasionally on television, one will see political debate or religious debate, but for the most part, we do not get much intelligent discourse on the large issues that face mankind.

Job's friends are debaters and thinkers.  It's too bad that they are not more kind and compassionate.  Today, Job's friend, Bildad, speaks.  There is probably a crowd gathered, as it seems that Bildad gets progressively meaner.  Bildad accuses Job of going on like a blustering wind.  He basically calls Job a wind bag.  Nice. Then, he hits below the belt when he claims that Job's children probably died because they sinned against God and they deserved it. Wow.  Thanks for coming over, Bildad.  It is much appreciated.

Bildad hasn't thought through the issue.  We have all sinned against God and we all deserve death. Bildad is not aware of this fact.  He has not put two and two together. He then waxes eloquent about how the godless seem to prosper, but in the end they are destroyed.  He is implying that this is the case for Job and his children.  So, he is proposing that Job is godless.  Bildad argues that God doesn't reject a person of integrity.  Job, therefore, must not be a person of integrity. Also, evil doers do not prosper.  So, Job must be an evil doer. Once again, Bildad is incorrect.  Plenty of evil doers do prosper on this earth.  We have all witnessed this.

Job responds to his friend with tolerance.  He asks a very pertinent question, "How can a person be declared innocent in the eyes of God?"  Job explains that if you wanted to take God to court, you could not challenge Him successfully. Job launches into an exquisite speech on God's position as Creator of the Universe.  And, Job laments that God is invisible to mankind. Job states that God moves and we do not see Him go.  He is also all powerful and we are powerless to stop Him.  Job declares his innocence before God and claims that God is attacking him without reason.  Job still has some things to learn at this point.

Job would like to have a trial where the justice of his suffering could be examined.  He knows he would lose in court, so he finally cries out for a mediator.  With a mediator, Job could speak to God without fear.  Job is a wise man.  He understands his need before a Holy God.  Job is crying out for the Messiah.  Job senses that he has a broken relationship with the Creator.  He realizes that he needs a man/God, who can relate to his sorrow and suffering.  A man who could approach the Holiness of God without dying.  This man is Jesus, and Job's desire to have this Man as a mediator is an act of faith. 

Do you see that Job's suffering has brought him to a realization that he is in need of a
Savior?  Has your suffering ever caused you to seek God and Jesus?

Job is embittered and accuses God of creating him knowing that he would sin, and then God could punish him without forgiving him of his sins.  Job is getting quite cynical as he suffers. He asks the question of why God would bother to create a person just to see him suffer for unforgiven sins.

This time, Zophar steps up to put a verbal sword into Job's suffering heart.  He joins the chorus of people who are telling Job that none of this would be happening to him if he would lift up his hands in prayer and get rid of his sins.  Zophar claims that Job's faith could heal him.  Have you heard this claim in our modern day?  Whatever you think and believe can change your reality.  This teaching is as old as the hills, but it is incorrect.  None of these men is aware of God's meetings with the angels and Satan.  They are unaware of what has gone on in the spirit world. God is allowing Job to be tested for His own purposes.  It is not tied to Job's behavior, Job's unforgiven sins, or Job's faith.  These men have it wrong.

Lessons:  Be careful presuming to know why suffering happens on this earth.  Watch how you comfort friends when they are suffering.  Go to the true Mediator, Jesus Christ, to have your broken relationship with God fixed. 

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Today, Paul explains the Good News of the gospel to the Corinthians.  It is an explanation of exactly what Job was desiring.  Jesus Christ is our mediator.  He died for our sins.  But, this was not the end of the sacrifice, because after being buried, Christ rose from the dead.  Paul explains that Peter, the apostles, 500 witnesses, and even Paul, himself, have seen the risen Christ.  This is not a spiritual resurrection, it is a bodily resurrection. 

Paul explains that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is key to the Christian faith.  It is the power of God to restore us to life, so that we can live with God forever.  Here is a key verse that we should all be familiar with 1 Corinthians 15:21,
"So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ."
Paul explains that everyone dies because we are related to Adam, who sinned and brought death. But everyone who is related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life.  This is the completed promise to Eve in the Garden.  This is how the Serpent (Satan) is defeated by the Child (Jesus). 

Jesus will reign on earth until all of his enemies are defeated, and finally, the enemy of death will be defeated.  Jesus has the authority to end death in human beings.  That is what will eventually happen.  The end of the story is Christ presenting himself victorious to God the Father, who will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere, because when He gave His Son authority, His Son accomplished what needed to be done.

Do you understand God's purposes now?  This is His Story.

Are you sure that you will live forever with God?  Has Christ become your Mediator?

Psalm 38:1-22

Here is a psalm that Job could have easily cried out to God.

Proverbs 21:28-29

Job's friends are false witnesses.  The Apostle Paul is a true witness.

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22- As The Sparks Fly Upward

August 22, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 4:1-7:21; 1 Corinthians 14:18-40;
Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 21:27

Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.  
~Job 5:7

Job 4:1-7:21

In the year 2010, a catastrophic earthquake hit the nation of Haiti. This 7.0 magnitude quake had at least 52 aftershocks and affected 3 million people.  While millions of people sent money, food, supplies, and well wishes to the people of Haiti, some others sent unwanted advice.  Pat Robertson, a television evangelist and Christian broadcasting legend, pronounced on national television that the earthquake in Haiti was God's judgment against a past pact with the Devil that had been made by Haiti's leaders.  There is no way that Pat Robertson could have know why the earthquake hit Haiti.  His words just put salt in the wounds of hurting people. One of the lessons of the book of Job is that men are unable to discern the reasons for suffering.  There are many reasons why one person or one nation may be suffering.  Today, Job hears from one of the three friends who have come to comfort him.  Unfortunately, his friend, Eliphaz, is like Pat Robertson.

Eliphaz's Advice

You may have noticed while reading these passages today that the men speak in beautiful prose.  Their eloquence is stunning.  Anyone who thinks that we are evolving to a higher state in our modern day should contemplate the writings of the ancients.  They were far more intellectual than we.  Anyway, Eliphaz has come to comfort Job, but he misses the mark, terribly.  Although eloquent, his words are not a balm to Job's soul.  We learn from Eliphaz that Job was a man whose life caused other people to turn to God. Job was a person who steadied those who were wavering and strengthened those who had fallen. Job knew how to comfort those who were suffering!  What a wonderful accolade!  Unfortunately, Eliphaz is not of the same caliber as Job and he follows this nice compliment with a dig at Job for not following his own advice.  He acts as if Job is a paper tiger.  In other words, he says "Why don't you follow your own advice and quit whining?"

His next piece of advice to Job is that Job admit that his suffering has come about because of his own sin.  Eliphaz suggests that Job go before God and present his case. He also tells him to not despise the chastening of the Almighty that comes because of his sin.  All in all, Eliphaz does not get it.  He is presuming to know why Job is suffering.  He is giving advice without knowledge of the situation. This is always dangerous.  Eliphaz had an opportunity to minister to Job and comfort him.  He could have strengthened Job's faith in God, but he doesn't.  Instead, he accuses Job of sinning and being a wimp.

Job's Response

Job retorts that if oxen can low when they don't have food and donkeys can bray when there is no green grass, why can't he moan in his suffering?  Job has an excellent point.  His complaining is natural and justified. He wishes that God would grant him some hope.  Without hope, Job is at his wit's end.  Death would be a comfort.  In spite of his pain, Job does not deny the Words of the Holy One. 


Job then tells Eliphaz that he has been an unreliable friend.  He has been like a seasonal brook that sometimes floods and sometimes is bone dry.  His friendship is a mirage.  Ouch!! Job is right in that all three of his friends do not know God, do not know Job, and do not understand the reason for his suffering.  They also don't truly understand themselves.  Job is the wise and suffering one in this story.

Job then breaks out in a new bout of complaining.  He says that his suffering has made his nights and days miserable.  He perceives this illness to be terminal.  It has caused him to hate his life.  Job says that he must express his anguish and complain in bitterness. Notice his truthful expressions before God and man.  Like King David, Job lays it all out there. Job admits in Job 7:21 that he has sinned.  But his friends are accusing him of some gigantic secret sin that has brought about punishment.  Job is stating that there is not a large secret sin.  Job asks why God is making him a target. He wonders aloud why God won't just pardon his sin and take away his guilt.  Notice that Job understands that God is merciful.  Job is the only one who has his finger on the pulse of God.  This is why he is distressed that God is testing him in this manner.


Lessons:  We do not always know why there is suffering.  All humans experience trouble in this life. In order to comfort someone who is suffering, we should not claim to know why they are suffering. Complaining is okay.  Blaming God is not okay.  God is merciful.

What do you notice about Job's suffering?  How does it relate to how you react to trials and suffering?  What do you think about how his friend attempts to comfort him?

1 Corinthians 14:18-40

I find it interesting as Paul wraps up his teaching about spiritual gifts and talks about the gift of tongues that he points out that this gift of being able to speak in foreign languages in order to spread God's Word was prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 28:11-12.  Don't know if I've ever picked up on that before. Paul points out that tongues is a sign for unbelievers.  This is like miracles, which are a sign that point to God's power.  Prophesy, on the other hand, is a gift  for believers. Prophesy builds up the body of Christ. Tongues builds up nonbelievers.  Paul wants the Corinthians to desire the gifts that build up the Church.

The Corinthians are immature in their faith.  This has resulted in competitiveness amongst the believers, ecstatic and undisciplined worship, people speaking out of turn in the services, and general chaos among the body.  Paul's encouragement is that they desire the gifts that build up other people, rather than their own egos.  He states that women should not speak in church.  Is he saying that women should never utter a word in church? No. This would not square with other parts of Scripture where women have the gift of prophecy.  We also have women like Priscilla and Lydia very involved.  He is talking about the gift of tongues, here.  The women with this gift must have been dominating the worship services by getting up and speaking in tongues, non-stop.  Do you know any women who might be prone to this if they had the gift of tongues?  I do.

Paul concludes by reminding the Corinthians that they are not the be-all-to-end-all on spiritual matters.  He encourages them to listen to him and make sure that everything they do is done properly and in order.

Lessons:  Desire spiritual gifts that help other people grow in their faith.  Remember, Job was described as a man that helped other people in their faith.  Be like Job.

How can you find and use your spiritual gifts?

Psalm 37:30-40

Well, it should not surprise us that the first verse is this, "The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong."  Job's friends do not do this.  Job is the one who knows right from wrong.  The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, is giving godly counsel to the Corinthians.

Proverbs 21:27

God loathes sacrifices from the wicked.  This is strong.  You can't fool God.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21- Naked From The Womb

August 21, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Job 1:1-3:26; 1 Corinthians 14:1-17;
Psalm 37:12-29; Proverbs 21:25-26

Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. 
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.  
~Job 1:21

Job 1:1-3:26

On the first anniversary of our marriage, my husband and I gave each other a German Shepherd puppy.  We lived in a charming neighborhood with cute gingerbread-looking homes, but we had been to a neighborhood community meeting and heard stories of break-ins and thievery.  Not interested in being victimized, we figured that having a good watch dog would prevent any trouble.  We decided to name our dog "Job."  Most people did not realize that this was a biblical name.  When we would take him to the vet, they thought his name was "job" like when you get employment.  Anyway, I wanted to name him "Job" because I knew he would be faithful.  Today, we meet one of the most genuinely faithful men who have ever walked this planet.  The point of the book of Job though, is to show us that even the most faithful man needs to repent before a Holy God.

Before we get going on this marvelous book, let's get a little background.  Job is the first of the poetical books.  The other poetical books are the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Lamentations.  Being poetical does not mean that everything rhymes.  In Hebrew literature, it means that there are repeated ideas and parallelism.  It is similar to Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

Job was probably a contemporary of Jacob (Israel) and lived during the times of the Patriarchs. According to J. Vernon McGee, several things point to Job living during this time period:
  • The length of his life, which was over 150 years, seeing his second set of sons and daughters up to the fourth generation.
  • He acted as high priest for his family, which indicates that it is before the Book of the Laws of Moses are written.
  • One of his friend, Eliphaz is a son of Esau.  Remember Esau who was Jacob's brother?
Now, let's begin to talk about today's reading.  We are introduced to Job, a man who lived in the land of Uz.  This is not Oz, like in the Wizard of Oz!  Uz is probably in the Syrian desert.  According to the historian Josephus, Uz is a grandson of Shem, who founded the city of Damascus.  So Job lives in or near the wilderness.  That fits nicely with a theme that emerges in Scripture.  God's great men and women are taught by Him in the wilderness.  Job is about to experience one of the greatest wilderness experiences of all time.

But first, we have Job, who is described as a blameless man of complete integrity.  Wow.  What a marvelous description.  Can you imagine being described in this way?  A person of impeccable reputation who is justified by his life. He feared God and stayed away from evil.  We learn that Job has ten children and is exceedingly wealthy.  He was the richest person in his area. 

As priest for his family, Job would make sacrifices to God to cover any sins his children might have committed.  Remember, animal sacrifice pointed to the future sacrifice of a Messiah for all of mankind's sins.  Job was showing faith in a future Messiah.  But, it is interesting to note that the Bible tells us that he made sacrifices for his children, but not for himself.  This may be a clue as to why God allows the testing of Job.

The next scene is fascinating.  We are allowed to peek into the realm of the spiritual.  We see angels reporting to God. Also, Satan, God's most beautiful angel, who rebelled and is a fallen angel, is among those who report to the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.  Does it surprise you that Satan reports to God?  Did you realize that he is under God's control?  We learn that Satan has a purpose on earth that God directs, and Satan is not equal to God.  Satan is one of God's creations.  His purpose is defined and controlled by His Creator.  Wrap your mind around that for a while.

As this angelic group meets, the Lord asks Satan where he has been.  Satan replies that he has been going back and forth through the earth.  Duh.  I see him everyday as I turn on my TV and watch the news and entertainment programs.  He is still wandering this earth, today.  Anyway, God asks him if he has noticed His servant Job? God brags on Job and says that there is no man of faith like him on earth.  Wow.

Satan has a come back to God's statement.  This is Satan being true to his rebellious nature.  Whenever Satan speaks in the Bible, it is always with this tone.  He is questioning, doubting, and accusatory.  In this instance, he doubts Job's faith and integrity by saying that Job only loves God because God has blessed him.  Satan is questioning Job's faith and God's worth. Satan proposes that if Job lost everything, he would curse God.  God allows Satan to test Job by taking away everything, but he must not take away Job's life.

What do you think of this?  Poor Job is down on earth completely unaware of what is about to hit him.  You and I are in the same position.  We do not know what trials may come into our lives.  Let's watch and learn from Job.

As the story unfolds, Satan works his evil deeds and Job is robbed by Sabeans and loses his farm animals and workers.  Fire from God (this is an inaccurate report. It was fire from Satan.) comes and burns up his sheep and the shepherds. Chaldean raiders steal all of his camels, and a tornado kills all of his children.  Can you imagine the bad day?  Dear God in heaven...how would you respond?

In an act of mind-blowing humility, Job tears his robe, shaves his head, falls to the ground, and says to God,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."  ~Job 1:21
What sort of man has this perspective on suffering?  We can begin to see why God bragged about this servant.  Job did not sin by blaming God for his troubles. God is the giver of faith, and He has given Job a huge amount of faith. Job has passed this first test.

Once again, the angels come to God, and Satan takes this opportunity to seek to take Job's health away, in order to destroy his faith.  Are you beginning to see the nature of how Satan works?  He is a creature who attacks, harms, lies, doubts, prods, manipulates, and seeks to destroy.  God uses Satan in His universe.  Does this surprise you? God gives Satan permission to test Job by allowing his health to be destroyed.  Satan attacks Job with head to toe boils.  Ouch.  Mega bad day, again! 

With this new tragedy, Job's wife encourages him to curse God and die. She thinks this is a situation where his integrity doesn't matter anymore.  She is a foolish woman. Job tells her that she is acting as if she has no faith.  Wow, again.  Job gets it.  Faith is not about believing in God only when things are going well.  Faith is belief in God, no matter what your circumstances are.  Truth is truth, even when you are suffering.  Do you believe that?  Are you like Job or his wife?

Some friends come to comfort Job.  Upon seeing his condition, they cry and wail loudly, throw dust in the air, and tear their robes to show their distress at his suffering.  Finally, Job speaks.  In extremely poetic terms, Job says that it would have been better if he had never been born.

We get insight into the fact that Job had feared that this type of suffering would come to him.  What do you fear?  Is there a life situation that you hope will not come upon you?  That is the place where God has allowed Satan to place Job.  This is Job's hour of testing. 

As we walk this earth, we each have hours of testing.  May God show us how to be faithful in trials.

1 Corinthians 14:1-17

Love is to be our highest goal, but prophesying is also a good goal, because prophesying is the gift of helping others to grow in the Lord by encouraging them and comforting them. 

The Corinthians are all tied up in those who have been given the gift of talking in foreign languages in order to witness.  Paul explains that this gift requires an interpreter and is a limited gift. Prophesy is more general and more helpful.

Pride is involved in the Corinthians wanting to show off a special gift that other people can't understand.  This makes the one who is gifted seem special and above others.  The Corinthians are hoping to appear more spiritual by having the gift of tongues or foreign languages.  Paul discourages this behavior and reminds the Corinthians that gifts are designed to build up the Church and not to build up one's individual ego.

How do you use your spiritual gifts?

Psalm 37:12-29

Think of Job and Satan as you read this psalm, today.

Proverbs 21:25-26

Lazy people refuse to work and bring about their own ruin.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20- When Mourning Turns To Joy

August 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Esther 8:1-10:3; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 21:23-24

Esther 8:1-10:3

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, the Wicked Witch Is Dead!  This is probably how the Jews felt upon hearing the news that Haman was hanged.  On that very day, Esther was given Haman's estate, which would have been very large.  We learn later in the story that Haman had ten sons who were also hung.  Some translations of the Bible say that they were impaled on poles. The king finds out that Mordecai is related to Esther, and he decides to make Mordecai the prime minister of the kingdom.

Esther comes to beg the king to stop the decree that will annihilate the Jews.  Because any law sealed with the King's ring could not be revoked under Persian law, the king gave Mordecai the ability to make a decree for the Jews to protect themselves against their enemies.  Mordecai sends out a decree to all of the provinces telling the Jews that they may unite and fight to protect themselves from annihilation.  The date of March 7th was chosen by lot or by purim by Haman.

So on March 7th, the Jews throughout the kingdom successfully fought and defeated their enemies.  Their mourning was turned to joy.  Mordecai's fame spread throughout the land, and Mordecai used his influence to establish a annual festival to be celebrated by the Jews on March 7th and 8th, in order to commemorate a time when the Jew gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow turned to gladness and their mourning turned to joy.  Esther's authority as the Queen was also behind the establishment of this festival. 

I find it interesting that the Festival of Purim (which means "lot" or "chance") is celebrated because of God's Providential hand in saving the Jews.  It was not Purim that saved them, but Providence.  Purim brought them to destruction, while Providence saved them from destruction.

Only two books in the Bible are named for women, Ruth and Esther.  This is not by chance or mistake. Ruth is the story of an obedient and faith-filled Gentile, who is redeemed by a kinsman-redeemer.  Esther is the story of the a Jewish woman, who is out of step with God, and yet, His Providence saves her and her people.  Ruth represents the Church in our day.  The Church is redeemed by Jesus Christ, our kinsman redeemer and we come to our Redeemer through faith and obedience.  Esther represents the Jewish Nation in our day, who are for the most part, out of step with God.  The Jews, by God's Providence, will be protected throughout history by God and will eventually be restored to a right relationship with their Messiah in the end times. 

Are you surprised at how many ways God pictures the story of His redemption of mankind and His promises to the Jews?  God is faithful.  His ways are higher than our ways. His great love drives this train.

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

Whenever you have people who are supposed to function as a group together, there can be conflict because some people perceive that they are less important based on the position that they hold within the group.  We have all heard the expression "too many chiefs and not enough Indians".  The Apostle Paul is showing the Corinthians that part of God's plan for the body of Christ on earth is for people to have different jobs within the organization.  Not everyone will have the same gift or job,  but all gifts and jobs work together to accomplish God's will.  Instead of envying what appear to be the most prestigious gifts and jobs, Paul is appealing to the Corinthians to desire the most helpful ones.

He takes this opportunity to speak some brilliant truth to the Corinthians. He ties all of the gifts to the motivation of love.  It doesn't matter how talented you are, if you are not using that talent in love toward other people. So what does love look like?  Here are the very words that I dare not paraphrase. 
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of wrong.  It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."  1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Paul also teaches the following, "There are three things that will endure- faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

As the body of Christ matures and understands this, conflicts should wain, while unity reigns!

Have you practiced love today?  This may mean giving up a "melt down," even though you may really deserve one.  It may mean steeling yourself against feeling jealous of someone who has it better than you. It could mean stopping the constant griping in your soul at the bad drivers that surround you on your drive home.  Love changes things.  We need for love to change us!

Psalm 37:1-11

"Trust in the Lord and do good."  That says it all, folks. 

Proverbs 21:23-24

Keeping your mouth shut can keep you out of trouble.  Yes.  Now, if only I could do it!

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19- For Such A Time As This

August 19, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Esther 4:1-7:10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-26;
Psalm 36:1-12; Proverbs 21:21-22

The purpose of influence is to "speak up for those who have no influence." 
(Psalm 31:8) It's not about you. 
~Rick Warren



Esther 4:1-7:10

Have you ever wondered why you are on the earth?  What is your purpose?  Today, Queen Esther has a revelation.  She realizes why she was born.  I had an experience like this in my life that is too personal to get into here on the blog.  I will only tell you that as I went through this trial and the consequential changes that occurred in my life, one day, I had an epiphany.  I realized that God had put me on the earth for that very moment in time.  I was supposed to do what the trial had forced upon me for a higher purpose.

As our story begins, Mordecai has read Haman's decree to kill all of the Jews in the kingdom.  Knowing that once something has become law for the Medes and Persians, it can NEVER be revolked, Mordecai is beside himself with grief.  He tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, and wails loudly in the streets.  Queen Esther, unaware of the decree, is embarrassed by his behavior and sends out a new set of clothing for him. Mordecai sends back a copy of the decree to Esther with a request that she go to the king to beg for mercy for the Jews.  Esther replies that the king will kill anyone who comes before him without being summoned.  Mordecai retorts that Esther should not think for one moment that she will escape death from this decree.  He also reveals his belief that God's Providential hand has been involved in Esther being appointed queen when he states, "What's more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this."

Esther is convinced by this reply and asks that Mordecai gather the Jews in the city to fast.  She and her maidens will also fast for three days.  Why don't they pray?  This shows us that this group of Jews are not in God's will.  They have lost touch with God's Word and are living apart from daily prayer and worship.  They are aware of God's promises to them as a people group, but this is all.  They do not have an intimate relationship with Him at this time.

Have you ever been out of touch with God?

With courage and bravery, Esther approaches King Xerxes.  He extends the scepter of grace to her and allows her to approach the throne.  Her act is one of self sacrifice.  She is willing to die for her people.  Esther is truly acting like nobility.  This shows good character. Esther simply invites the king and Haman to a banquet.  Very cunning.  Her plan is to develop fellowship and get to the king through his stomach.  Wise. Haman is proud and puffed up after attending the banquet.  The only thing that squelches his good mood is that pesky Jew, Mordecai.

By God's providence once more, the king is unable to sleep that night.  He decides to have his history read to him.  During that reading, Mordecai's act of saving the king from an assasination plot is read.  The king asks what was done for Mordecai as a reward for this good deed.  It is revealed that no reward was given.

Haman comes into the king's chamber just at that moment to ask that the king hang Mordecai from the gallows Haman had built. But first, the king asks Haman how he should honor a man who pleases him.  Haman thinks the king is talking about him.  He comes up with a plan that the king has Haman personally carry out to honor Mordecai.  Oh my, we see the humor in God's providence!!

Haman's wife sees this as a bad omen for Haman.  Her intuition is impeccable.  Haman goes to Esther's second banquet where King Xerxes again offers to give Esther whatever she wishes. She asks that her life and the lives of her people be spared from annihilation.  When asked by the king who has done this, Esther replies that this wicked Haman has done it. The king is enraged and storms out to the gardens.  In the meantime, a pale and fearful Haman falls on Esther's couch to plead for his life.  The king comes in and sees him on Esther's couch and roars that Haman should be hung on his own gallows.  The king's rage subsides after Haman is hung. 

God's hand moves in interesting ways.  Haman tried to annihilate the Jews.  Antiochus IV tried to annihilate the Jews. Hitler attempted to annihilate the Jews.  In the end times, the Antichrist will attempt to annihilate the Jews.  None of these people will succeed, because God has made promises to preserve the Jews and bring them back to Himself.  God is true to His promises.  His Providence protects the Jewish people, in order to fulfill His promises to them. He protects them, even when they are out of His will. This story is a picture of that truth.

What do you think about God's protection of the Jewish nation?  Do you feel His hand upon your life?

1 Corinthians 12:1-26

Did you realize that no one can call Jesus "Lord" except by the power of the Holy Spirit?  This is one of the teachings that Paul gives to the Corinthians today. Paul is beginning to teach about the concept of spiritual gifts.  God is a giver.  He gives us salvation.  He gives us the Holy Spirit.  He gives us faith to believe in Jesus.  Today, we see that he also gives us certain abilities, so that we can help others within the Church.

Some people are given the ability to give wise advice. Others are given special knowledge, or faith, or the power to heal, perform miracles, or prophesy.  Some people can discern good from evil, while someone else is able to speak in a foreign language, in order to witness to others.  These gifts are designed to help other people and glorify God. 

Christ's Church is described as a body with many functioning parts.  The individual parts have functions that cause the whole body to work together.  This is what we are like as Christ's body on earth.  You may think that the little toe has no purpose on the body, but it serves to balance you as you walk.  Paul's point is that we all have a purpose!!  We are all important.

Lesson: Just as Esther realized that she had an important purpose on earth to help save her people, we as believers in Christ, each have a vitally important purpose to use our God-given gifts to help God's people on earth. We are here for such a time as this!

Psalm 36:1-12

I think of Haman when I read these words, "Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God to restrain them."

Proverbs 21:21-22

Pursuing godliness will result in finding life.  Eternal life.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011