Pursuit of a Righteous Life

Job 35-37

Job 35 3 CSB

Today, we read as Elihu continues to reason out why bad things happen to good people. In chapter 35, we read about a dangerous attitude: being righteous for the sake of what we can gain from God or others. The second that our circumstances turn negative, we can easily fall into the trap that Elihu explains in verses 2-9. In these verses, he says, “Do you think it is just when you say, ‘I am righteous before God?’ For you ask, “What does it profit you, and what benefit comes to me, if I do not sin?”

 

Even though we may not admit it, we may begin to think the same questions as Elihu and Job when we face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we think that we follow God for the benefits that we gain in this life. We feel that if we do the right things (we do not lie, cheat, steal, etc.) that we should have a good life with a good family, nice house, and steady paycheck. It is true that following the wisdom that we find in Proverbs and other books can lead to better life outcomes than following the path of the wicked. This being said, we were never promised an easy life full of worldly comforts. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that he should be pitied more than all other men if it’s only for this life that he is hoping for. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus even says that we are blessed when we mourn and face persecution and difficult times. When we choose to follow Jesus and pursue a righteous life, we are choosing a more difficult path.

 

When we think in terms of what we can gain in this life, it may seem like there is not much benefit in pursuing a righteous life. So why should we decide to live a righteous life and not sin? Elihu attempts to answer how our sin affects God and others in verses 6-9. He says, “Your wickedness affects a person like yourself, and your righteousness another human being. People cry out because of severe oppression; they shout for help because of the arm of the mighty.” When we sin, we not only are grieving God, but also we are hurting those around us. Yes, we may not always have an easy life, but ultimately, we are living a better life when we choose to live by the commands that God gives us.

 

If you are facing difficult circumstances, you may feel like giving up on God. It may seem like he is silent. You may feel like the sacrifices you’ve made for your faith are not resulting in the good things that you want from God. But, don’t give up on pursuing a righteous life! Your actions will lead to a better life for you and those around you and will guide more people to the kingdom.

Cayce Fletcher

You can read or listen to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+35-37&version=CSB

Tomorrow’s passage will be Job 38-39 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Trusting in the Character of God

Job 32-34

Job 34 10b csb

We are deep into the book of Job, listening to Job’s friends who make pretty poor comforters as Job tries to process his grief. At the heart of all of these arguments which make up Job 3-42 is the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We saw last week that Job had argued successfully that he had done nothing wrong; he was a righteous man. His friends though just couldn’t believe that God would allow bad things to happen to righteous people, unless it was as a form of discipline.

 

As we get into chapter 32, we hear from another one of Job’s friends. As with all of the other arguments, some of what he says is true and valid, while other parts are not. Elihu feels as though he has to speak because Job had “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). He tells Job:

 

“It is impossible for God to do wrong,
And for the Almighty
To act unjustly
For He repays a person according to his deeds,
And He brings his ways on him.
Indeed, it is true that God
Does not act wickedly
And the Almighty does not
Pervert justice.”  (Job 34:10-12)

 

When we deal with difficult situations, we can be tempted to be like Job’s friends. We want to blame our situation on God disciplining us. When we feel we are righteous in our own eyes, we can begin to be bitter towards God and question his goodness and justice. We know that God is just and good. It’s so important not to lose sight of that fact as we deal with challenging situations. We need to rest in the character of God, rather than allow our circumstances to dictate what we believe about God’s character. The messy truth is that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God (James 1:17). When we receive these things, it’s not that we’ve gotten what we’ve earned. Instead, we have received grace upon grace. When we rest in God’s goodness and justice, we can face those hard days with more strength and peace, because we know that God is good despite what goes on around us.
Cayce Fletcher
You can read, or listen to, today’s passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+32-34&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible passage will be Job 35-37.  Print a copy of the schedule and follow along on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Life Gets Better

job 40_6-9

When You Break Down the Barriers

 

For the longest time, I never thought I would see the other side of my depression. Especially when I was in deepest. During that time, my girlfriend of 3 years dumped me, my pastor I’d grown up listening to and adored passed away, I was failing college, and I was in a job that made me so miserable the only way I felt better was writing lyrics about how I felt. It got so bad, I started thinking about how people in my life would feel if I’d never existed, or just faded away. Around that time though, those lyrics I had written finally came to have a purpose because God helped me find a band to join. It may have been a short lived adventure, but I cherish those days as the therapy it was for me. I bled out the unhealthy emotions that had begun to dwell within my heart through those lyrics until it wasn’t helping anymore.

 

In today’s devotional, we will conclude the book of Job. The story of Job is complex, beautiful, and I await to reread this book again to uncover more wisdom hidden within this book. We have reached Job 32, and are now meeting Elihu. I heavily encourage you take the time to read from Chapter 32 to the end, but I will hit the key verses that stuck out to me in understanding this story better. Elihu arrives to rebuke Job for his missteps in his arguments and intentions within the debate between Job and the three men of understanding. Elihu waited up until this point out of respect of age, and because the three friends had become discouraged in debating any further.

Elihu’s first acknowledgement of faultiness in Job’s mourning is shown in Job 33: 8-22.

Job 33: 8-22 NASB: “8 Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words: 9 ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. 10 ‘Behold, He invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. 11 ‘He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’ 12 “Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, For God is greater than man. 13 “Why do you complain against Him That He does not give an account of all His doings? 14 “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol. 19 “Man is also chastened with pain on his bed, And with unceasing complaint in his bones; 20 So that his life loathes bread, And his soul favorite food. 21 “His flesh wastes away from sight, And his bones which were not seen stick out. 22 “Then his soul draws near to the pit, And his life to those who bring death.”

Job may be a faithful follower of God, but he did make accusations that God was not on his side. Elihu points out these flaws on Job’s logic so Job may understand where he has faltered in his discussion. It is a great detail to point out because how often do we get paranoid, and start to wonder whether what God is planning is for our benefit? This is a common problem I ran into in my thought process while depressed.

If you aren’t convinced when reading through here that Elihu cares about Job, I have a couple verses to show his intent was for Job’s benefit. Job 33: 31-33 NASB: “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Then if you have anything to say, answer me; Speak for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” I didn’t notice his intentions as good to start out because all his other friends we read the speeches of are jaded and convinced Job is wicked. In further delving though, I found Elihu to be a great friend to Job. “Speak for I desire to justify you” is the phrase that opened my eyes once I looked into the Hebrew word justify originates from in this context. The Hebrew word is Tsadaq. In this context, it means “turn to righteousness.” Elihu cares deeply enough about Job to help him turn to righteousness.

 

Elihu next points out that Job’s pride has become a barrier between himself and God. This happens in Job 35. Job’s pride has caused him a lack of understanding towards man, especially ones he deems to be wicked. We see this iterated in Job 24. Elihu gives proof that God doesn’t ignore wrongs, and doesn’t just allow the wicked to roam free. You can find the evidence in Job 36: 5-33. An important detail we can take from this is to not generalize and judge our fellow man. We are to help them understand why we ask repentance of our sins. Sin separates us from YHWH, and YHWH doesn’t want to be separated from His creation.

 

In Job 37, Elihu concludes his speech by bringing the voice of God back into the attention of Job. Then, in Job 38-39, God asks Job if he knows all the grand, minute details that were put into this life. To make His point to Job, God then asks Job a question in Job 40:2 NASB: “‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let Him who reproves God answer it.’” Job’s passion and wisdom are clear throughout this book, but along the way, Job began to question God. Asking God a question and questioning God are different beasts. Job 40:4-5 NASB: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add no more.” This is how Job responds after YHWH shows Job the error of his ways. God then further speaks of His power, asking Job if he too, can do all these things. Job confesses that he is incapable of doing these things, admitting he didn’t understand the gravity of his proclamations, and repented. God is even merciful enough to extend forgiveness to Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz, if they choose to repent of the words they spoke against The Lord.

 

After all of this was completed, God restored Job’s fortunes. Job lived a blessed life with many children, and got to see his grandchildren. Job got through a time of trial and tribulation that I cannot begin to fathom the pain he must have gone through. He did not make it through by his own doing, but God’s doing. Personally, my spiritual depression did not cease until I repented. I may not have started the depression outright, but I set up barriers between myself and God over time. It was through repentance that God helped me tear down those walls, and help me rebuild my life. My challenge for you today is to take some time to look inward, and find what barriers you may have built up between yourself and God. Repent of them, and start to see how your perspective on life begins to be built on love.

My song suggestion for today is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSyLqbP8Z4I  

 

-Andrew Cheatwood

If a Tree Falls in the Woods…

Job 31-34

job_33_4___bible_verse_quote_by_bible_quote-d7kpa8p

Wednesday, December 21

A profound and familiar philosophical question that has repeated through many ages says, “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  While this is a simple “yes” or “no” question you would probably get ten different explanations if you asked ten different people.  The question really is not precise enough to be answered on its own.

 

I have found the following question, heard in many theological circles, to be similar: “Does God speak today?”  Again, a question like this would be met with a variety of logic and debate because depends on interpretation of the question.

 

I feel both questions can be clarified by defining a single word. What do you mean by “sound” or “speaking”?

 

While there in a nuance between the two, I define both as an active force that travels through space or time that can/will eventually meet a listener.  God is not AN active force, but THE ever-present active force working in our lives.  While He has chosen to speak audibly to some, He has also spoken through vision, through prophets, and the ever-reverberating and active forces, His word and nature. (Heb 4:12; Psalm 19:1-6).

 

In our reading today, Elihu gives Job many examples of how God speaks not only audibly but inaudibly, through circumstance, His word, and through our brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

“But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue; My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.  The Spirit of God has made me;   the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:1-4

 

“For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds,he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.”  – Job 33:14-18

 

We may grow “deaf” because we have rejected Him, we may tune out certain frequencies because we have parts of our lives we are not ready to turn over to Him, but it does not mean He does not speak; it means, like Job, we have not listened.  There is always an audience for Him in moving and active creation. (Joshua 24:27).

God’s target audience is not the rocks; it is us.  He is constantly speaking in His word, through his pastors, in the sunrise, through his children, and yes, audibly.  Slow down.  Stop even.  Make time.  Ponder.  Pray.  Seek.  Perceive His wisdom, warnings, and wonders.  Today, make time to listen.

-Aaron Winner