Today we start reading the Book of Job. Oswald Chambers gave a series of talks on the Book of Job titled “Baffled to Fight Better.” Trials can be baffling. But as we will see in this book, they can fortify our faith with a greater understanding of Who God is.
In reading these opening chapters, we have a privilege that Job did not have! Job did not have the background information that we read in the prologue of this book. He did not know what was going on behind the scenes in the heavenly realms.
When we read Chapter 1:6-12 and Chapter 2:1-7, we learn that God had Job’s best interests at heart. At the same time, He was making Job a spectacle to principalities and powers.
Job was caught up in what appeared to be, at face value, a series of random unexpected calamities. He suddenly lost his wealth, property, children, health, and the companionship of his own wife.
Little did he know at the time that God was actively repudiating Satan’s charge that Job worshiped the Lord only because he was being blessed materially, relationally, physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
Job did not know of Satan’s behind-the-scenes involvement. Spoiler alert: He does not find out the reason by the end of the book! But he does make some more important discoveries. He gets to know that God is both good and great. He learns that even in times of mind-boggling suffering, God, in His wisdom, is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are the called, according to His purpose.
The early chapters describe some dark days in Job’s life. Not only does he bear the weight of personal sorrow at the loss of so much in his life, but his friends also provide no real comfort. At first, they are speechless in their attempt to console him. For seven days and nights, they sit with him, with no one speaking a word, as they beheld Job in such pain and sorrow.
Warren Wiersbe says that these truths arise in the Book of Job:
- God is sovereign in all things. Satan can do nothing to God’s people without God’s permission.
- Satan has access to God’s throne in heaven.
Thanks to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, many people have the mistaken idea that Satan is ruling this world from hell (“Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav’n”). But Satan will not be cast into the lake of fire until a time just before the final judgment (Revelation 20:10ff). Today, he is free to go about on the earth (Job 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8) and can even go into God’s presence in heaven.
3.God found no fault in Job, but Satan did.
The word ‘Satan’ means ‘adversary,’ one who opposes the law. This is a courtroom scene, and God and Satan each deliver different verdicts about Job. As you study this book, keep in mind that God said, “Not guilty!” (1:8; 2:3; 42:7) There was nothing in Job’s life that compelled God to cause him to suffer. But Satan said “Guilty!” because he is the accuser of God’s people and finds nothing good in them (Zech 3; Revelation 12:10).
- Satan can touch God’s people only with God’s permission, and God uses it for His good and His glory. God is at work in our lives to make us more like Jesus Christ, and He can use even the attacks of the devil to perfect us.
Satan, in making his accusation against Job, was really making an attack on God. He was implying that God gives special favors to people to cause them to worship Him. He charges that the Lord’s worshipers give reverence only because of the blessings they experience and not because they love Him for Who He is.
Job’s three older friends, Eliphaz, the Temanite, the eldest, Bildad, the Shuhite, the second eldest, and the younger Zophar, the Namaathite, believe that Job was suffering because he had sinned. Job’s experience was something like ‘bad kharma’. All three friends falsely believed that if Job was righteous, nothing evil would happen to him. These men were sincere and religious but had little understanding of God’s greater purposes. A self-righteous younger man, Elihu, will say rather glibly that God was using these trials to make Job a better man. The truth is that, even though we do sin, and trials do shape our character, these were not the reasons for Job’s suffering. And even though we read what was taking place in the heavenlies when Satan was accusing Job of being an expedient worshiper, we cannot presume to know all the reasons why God permitted these events to take place. God is true to His good character and has His good reasons for all that He does. But the bottom line is that God is God.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT -1 CORINTHIANS 14:1-17
In this chapter, Paul continues to address the carnal behavior exhibited in the lives of church members in Corinth. Their selfish preoccupations were manifested in the exercise of spiritual gifts when they gathered together. Have you realized that you can be carnal in both your attitude and actions in spiritual matters and ministry? We all recognize that we can say the right things in the wrong way and at the wrong time. Pride, confusion and outright deception can sabotage the benefit of the ministries of the members of the body of Christ as they attempt to exercise their spiritual gifts.
The Corinthian church members used spiritual gifts as a means of authenticating the worth of their ministries and exalting their egos. They were losing sight that the gifts are all God-given and for the common good. They are enablements given by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.
The Corinthians were not exercising their spiritual gifts in submission to the Holy Spirit or their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their subjective proclivity to ‘feelings’ and ‘experiences’ was a hangover from their pagan days when they were led astray in the service of mute idols (1 Corinthians 12:. We see this today as Christians are given to experiences of raised endorphin levels, some experiencing the same demonic manifestations that appear in Kundalini Yoga of Hinduism.
Paul admonishes the Corinthians to use their gifts in a more excellent way. He then describes the character of Christ in what is often called “The Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13). If your spiritual gifts hinder the expression of Who Christ Is as the Personification of Love as it is defined in this chapter, you are prostituting their purpose. You are as useless and annoying as a clanging gong or cymbal.
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul speaks from his own experience and teaches on the proper use of the gifts. He gives the Corinthians some ground rules for their meetings. He expected them to use their gifts in submission to the headship of Christ for the glory of God and the good of others.
The Corinthian church was giving a disproportionate amount of attention to the gift of speaking in languages unknown to the speaker. Paul speaks of the primacy of prophecy- speaking forth the Word of God in ways that can be understood by all (1 Corinthians 14:1-5,19). Believers should know the Word, speak the Word, and live the Word!
To Prophesy, in its truest sense, is to speak forth the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. The prophets were those who gave us the Holy Scriptures (Ephesians 2:20) and those who were appointed to communicate the mind of God as oracles prior to the completion of the Bible. The purpose of prophecy is to glorify the Word. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
When we speak of prophecy today, we are making a distinction between the activity of the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles and prophets who were appointed to give us the written Word of God in the Bible and the activity of those who minister the Word of God today. Prophecy is the communication of God’s truth for the purpose of stirring up (exhortation), building up (edification), and cheering up (encouragement) (1 Cor. 14:3).
We need to use our gifts in the way that is most profitable for the building up of the body of Christ. If a person at this time in Corinth had the gift of speaking in a language that had no meaning to them personally, they may be feeling chuffed that they have a spiritual enablement (1 Corinthians 14:4), but Paul says it is as useless as speaking into the air (v.6- 12) unless there is one to interpret (14:13). Paul makes it clear that the ‘tongue’ here is not referring to ‘gibberish’, but language that has syntax and meaning (1 Cor 14:10).
Paul advocates that we minister with both our spirits AND our minds (1 Cor 14:15) and seek to build up the body of Christ with revelation, knowledge, teaching, prophetic exhortation, edification, and consolation (1 Cor 14:3,6).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 37:12-29
The Psalmist continues to contrast the righteous (those in the right with God through faith in His Word) and the wicked (unbeliever).
Believers rooted in the Word have this promise: “In the day of disaster, they will not wither”.
Psalm 37:21 21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives.
This is the testimony of the mature saint:
Psalm 37:25 25 I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.
Psalm 37:28-29 28 For the LORD loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. 29 The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 21:25-26
What kind of worker are you? What kind of giver are you?
Proverbs 21:25-26 25 The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work; 26 All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back.
The Holy Spirit inspires us to be diligent rather than lazy, generous rather than stingy.
(from the “OPERATION WORLD” PRAYER GUIDE
Area: 330,434 sq km
Two distinct parts: Peninsular (West) Malaysia on the Kra peninsula of mainland Asia (PM), and East Malaysia (EM) consisting of the territories of Sarawak and Sabah on the northern third of the island of Borneo. Well-watered, tropical rainforest.
Population: 27,913,990 Annual Growth: 1.72%
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Official language: Malay Languages: 145 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
Challenges for Prayer
Islam is gaining ground in both numbers and socio-political power. Although many, including large numbers of Malays, are opposed to shari’a, the creeping changes in Malaysian public, religious and legal affairs are cause for concern and for prayer.
a) Islam itself is a battleground. With over 100 radical Islamist groups, there is never-ending agitation for sharia and the subjugation of all Malaysia to a much stricter version of Islam. Pray against the imposition of a harsh, aggressive Islam, which would bode ill for moderates, for minorities and for any Christian ministry.
b) Apostasy laws make conversion from Islam illegal in all but one state, with many states meting out harsh punishment for such offenses. It is nigh impossible for a Muslim (and therefore, by definition, for all Malays) to legally change their religion. Pray that federal constitutional rights might be upheld in courts. Pray for discretion and courage for all Muslims who choose to follow Christ.
c) Proselytizing Muslims is technically not illegal in federal law, but it is illegal in the more powerful state law in 10 of 13 states. Punishment includes a prison sentence and caning. Malays are increasingly isolated from the gospel, both socially and legally; pray for opportunities for them to encounter Jesus. Pray also for wisdom and fearlessness for Christians seeking to share the good news with Muslims.
PRAYER: Lord, You are to be worshiped for Who You Are and not just for what You do. You are God, and there is no other. We give You our vote of confidence that You have our best interests at heart. You can be trusted even when we are baffled by our lack of understanding. We are grateful for the spiritual intelligence given to us in Your Word. We know that You are at work behind the scenes and have given us the ability to stand confidently in the victory You have given to us in Christ. We are grateful for the ministry of Your Word and the demonstration of Your life in the members of the body of Christ. Thank You for those who continually stir us up, cheer us up, and build up the community of faith in the local church. We ask that the manifestation of Your presence in our world will be increasingly recognized and that the power of the gospel will transform lives today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.