But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! (Job 38:21)

Thought:

I have been really surprised by the book of Job. It is one of those books that, to me at least, seems less well known, less quoted than some of the others. And yet it is a truly gripping read, full of human feelings and emotions that affect us all as much now as when it was written, thousands of years ago. Today’s passage is taken from chapter 38 in which is recorded the Lord’s challenge to Job. The words of today’s passage are the words of God himself, spoken directly to Job out of a whirlwind. I imagine this must be like a tornado. I imagine Job engulfed and surrounded by the storm, in the eye of the tornado. Imagine how frightening that would be. Imagine how small and vulnerable that would make you feel. After all that has been said and argued over thirty seven chapters of scripture, the Lord himself wades in and puts it all into perspective. I am humbled, as Job was, by the immensity of God. We mere humans can never fully understand even the smallest part of God, and yet so many of us are leaping about trying to argue that God is dead, or irrelevant, now we have made some tiny steps in our understanding of things through scientific research. They really do think they know it all because they are so experienced.

Word:

Job 38:16-24 NLT

“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realise the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of hail? (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war.) Where is the path to the source of light? Where is the home of the east wind?

Goal:

Personally, I find that I must answer ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’, to every single question in today’s passage. Now I’m sure there will some out there who reckon they could have a go at answering one or two, but really, even that wouldn’t really amount to much when you read on around today’s short extract. My goal today is to try to hold on to a bit of perspective when it comes to God. I need to remember that he is so very much more than I could ever imagine with my tiny human mind. But I know I can trust him in all things, and I know that everything I have is his creation and given to me by his will. Likewise, everything I lose and all that causes me suffering is in his hands. The goal is to remember to trust God, come what may. With no exceptions.

Today’s readings:

Job 37:1-39:30, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10, Psalms 44:9-26, Proverbs 22:13

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our he arts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Thought:

In these devotionals I have often talked about the need to let the knowledge we have of Jesus, shine out in our lives through the way we interact with the world. But I find myself reminded by Paul today, that although we may try our very best to imitate Jesus, we must not preach or brag about our own achievements. Principally this is because nothing is achieved by our own strength and everything comes from God. Although we try to live as closely to the way Jesus taught as we can, we still need to tell others about Jesus himself who shone the light of salvation into the world. Paul’s wonderful image of us being fragile clay pots holding a great treasure is very evocative. It combines two great truths. We are moulded by the creator from nothing more than clay and yet, through our inherent weakness and fragility, God’s great glory and power are best demonstrated because we have no strength of our own.

Word:

2 Corinthians 4:5-10 NLT

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Goal:

Today I am inspired by the fact that although our bodies are so delicate and fragile, when we have been called to faith in Jesus, this dangerous world does not crush and destroy us. I am inspired by the idea that though I might have to endure pain and suffering in my life, Jesus has shown us the power of faith in such situations. We need not fear death anymore and we can learn a lot from suffering. So my goal is to accept my weakness and embrace my vulnerability and have faith that when I surrender to my weakness, I allow the light of the Lord to shine. I want to try and remember that when I wear a feeble mask of strength and build false walls of independence, all I do is throw a veil over the light which shines in my heart, and obscure the face of Jesus Christ himself.

Today’s readings:

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

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Thought:

Paul was keen to stress the importance of letting the Holy Spirit shine forth in the actions of all believers. There were two levels on which this idea of the veil mattered to Paul. Firstly, he wanted to illustrate how it feels when the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer and reveals the truth of Jesus in their hearts. He likened it to having a veil removed from their minds, which had previously, prevented them from understanding the writings of Moses in the old testament. It is still true in our day, thousands of years on from Paul, that the Jews are still not able to accept the truth that the old testament reveals Jesus as the messiah. Also many would be believers find it very difficult to understand the relevance of the old testament in relationship to the new covenant. In fact the whole bible is veiled in mystery and contradiction to many people these days. Secondly, Paul wanted to encourage believers to open up their hearts to host the presence of the Holy Spirit, to the point that his presence would literally overflow and shine out of them. This is what happened to Moses (Exodus 34:33-35) and Jesus himself at the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3)

Word:

2 Corinthians 3:11-18 NLT

So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Goal:

I think it is important to be, as Paul says, very bold in this new way. My goal today is to claim the power of Jesus in me. I want to open my heart to be filled to overflowing with his advocate, the Holy Spirit. My sincere hope, is that given a little time to learn God’s new way, and having had the veil of disbelief lifted by Jesus, I might abandon my old, sinful ways, and become acceptable enough to God to host his Spirit, that it might be a light to show others the truth of God’s love. I want to remember the gift of access to the Lord that Jesus gave us at the moment of his death – (Matthew 27:51)

Today’s readings:

Job 31:1-33:33, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18, Psalms 43:1-5, Proverbs 22:8-9

But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? (Job 28:12&20)

Thought:

In the 11 verses preceding today’s passage, Job enumerates the precious rock and mineral treasures that man is able to extract from the earth in which we live. But then he comes to the ultimate question: what is the use of all the wealth the earth has for us if, after all, we can not find the wisdom to know what to do with it. For in Job’s eyes Wisdom is the greatest treasure of all. In Job’s eyes, if he had access to the wisdom of God, then he might better understand the reasons behind his suffering. And if he could know God’s purposes for his life, he could spend more time devoted to God, and less time protesting his innocence to those who would accuse him of grave sin. Job is not the only figure to have realised the great value of Wisdom. Solomon, when asked what gift he would like, asked for the wisdom to govern his people well. The Lord was so pleased with his answer that he not only gave Solomon a great gift of wisdom, but he made him fabulously wealthy as well (1 Kings 3:5-14).

Word:

Job 28:12-20 NLT

“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean. ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea. It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver. It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli. Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies. Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold. “But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?

Goal:

It seems obvious to me that wisdom comes from God alone. It also seems obvious to me, that many great men of God who have gone before us sought the wisdom of the Lord. Some of them were moved by his spirit to record the wisdom they were given in many of the books we can read today in the Bible. I thank God everyday that I can read his words and hear his voice. I am so grateful that whatever the question, whatever the need, I know I can find the answer written and waiting for me in the holy scriptures. I will make it my goal to seek the wisdom of God above all else because as Jesus said in his famous sermon on the mount: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33 NLT)

Today’s readings:

Job 28:1-30:31, 2 Corinthians 2:12-17, Psalms 42:1-11, Proverbs 22:7

All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst. (Psalm 41:7)

Thought:

One of the most surprising things that I have found, since I began regularly reading the bible, is how much of my own experience of life is recorded within its pages. All my life, since I was a small boy at boarding school, right through my student days and up until the present time, I have been aware that I have enemies who say nothing but evil about me. Friends that I trusted have betrayed my confidence, others have openly wished me ill. A few of those with whom I have been the most intimate have turned on me, let me down and bad mouthed me. I don’t say any of this in the hope of your sympathy, I say it because it tallies with what I read in the verses of Psalm 41 below. I am constantly amazed at how much of human life is written in the Bible. And I am always surprised by the truth of it.

Word:

Psalms 41:4-13 NLT

4 “O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me.
Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me.
“How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.
6 They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip,
and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.
8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say.
“He will never get out of that bed!”
9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely,
the one who shared my food, has turned against me.
10 Lord, have mercy on me.
Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me,
for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent;
you have brought me into your presence forever.
13 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
who lives from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and amen!

Goal:

My goal is to take real comfort from the passages I can read in the scriptures which tell of my own experiences. Because for as much as the negative in this psalm is true of my own experience, so is the positive. The Lord has indeed preserved my life because I am innocent, and he truly has brought me into his presence forever. He has called me to him and he will never let me go, So I will praise him, despite the bad times and the false accusations. I will lift up my heart and voice to praise his name for all the days that I am alive. Amen and amen!

Today’s readings:

Job 23:1-27:23, 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11, Psalms 41:1-13, Proverbs 22:5-6

Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful? (Job 21:7)

Thought:

This is so true of many, many people today who refuse to acknowledge God. They believe that their lives are in their own hands. They trust that can insure themselves against the loss or damage of their property. They educate themselves widely to gain the right qualifications, to get the right job that pays the right salary. They trust that if they want something enough and work hard enough, then they can achieve anything. And many if them do exactly that. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. But many of them also imagine there is no God and pity the weakness they perceive in those that do believe in God. They imagine that God’s laws are restrictive and so they reject them in favour of the simple laws of men and the physical world they can see and touch. Sadly, for those who reject God, they miss that there is much more to life than what is contained in the physical world that can be seen and touched and scientifically proved. There is also the whole realm of the spirit and the soul. How do the Godless fill the void left behind by the absence of the kingdom of God?

Word:

Job 21:7-16 NLT

“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful? They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren. Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves and never miscarry. They let their children frisk about like lambs. Their little ones skip and dance. They sing with tambourine and harp. They celebrate to the sound of the flute. They spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace. And yet they say to God, ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?’ (They think their prosperity is of their own doing, but I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.)

Goal:

These so called wicked people who prosper and go to their graves in peace, who exactly are they? Do we you know any? Does anyone really have it so good? I don’t think so. That’s the point you see, it is very common to imagine that everyone else is sorted when you yourself are suffering. Job knew this and so, just as he is pointing out the apparent truth that that many godless people live perfectly prosperous and happy lives, he slips in verse 16 in brackets. And so that is also my goal. God is very gracious with those who turn their backs on him in favour of worldly wealth. Their rewards are temporary and ultimately worthless. I will not be seduced into thinking that there are things we can have aside from that which is given to us my God. All things come from God – whether good or bad, whether joyful and sorrowful, whether rich or poor

Today’s readings:

Job 20:1-22:30, 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, Psalms 40:11-17, Proverbs 22:2-4

And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! (Job 19:26)

Thought:

Yesterday, I talked about the idea that when the day of God’s judgement comes, there will be no warning and it could happen in the twinkling of an eye. But I avoided the other issue. That is the issue of the resurrection of the living and the dead. It is the issue of whether or not this is going to be a real physical event, or is it just a metaphorical and perhaps only spiritual resurrection? Well Paul is quite vague about the details but he is not vague about mortal bodies being transformed into immortal bodies. And neither is Job vague about it in today’s passage. Job was living with no tradition of Jesus. Yet he knew God would be his redeemer (paying of his debt of sin so that he might live). He was also confident that his redeemer would stand upon the earth at last – Just as Jesus did as a man among us. And then most astonishingly of all he knew that after he was dead and his body long decayed, he would be raised to life again in his own body and see God!

Word:

Job 19:25-29 NLT

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and 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! “How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, ‘It’s his own fault’? You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment. Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.”

Goal:

I have included two more verses than I originally thought I would. Job was guilty of nothing more than any other human being could have been. He was known as a God fearing man who had always tried to live according to God’s laws. And yet, at the point in his Life when he had all his good fortune taken away and was experiencing his greatest suffering, all his friends turned on him and assumed he must be guilty of some grave sins. They thought he must have brought it all upon himself. My goal today is to listen to Job’s warning that his friends judgmental attitudes themselves deserved punishment. We should know and take seriously that God will judge us all when he returns and there will be no second chances then. We can not know the full working of the God’s plans for us, so when others appear to fail or we might suspect that God is punishing them for their sins, we should be careful what we say to them and question our own flawed judgements. Job lived hundreds of years before Jesus and yet he knew he would come and redeem him and raise him to life in the presence of God…. Now that is a faith to aspire to!

Today’s readings:

Job 16:1-19:29, 1 Corinthians 16:1-24, Psalms 40:1-10, Proverbs 22:1