TODAY’S READING FROM THE ONE-YEAR BIBLE – STARVE YOUR APPETITE FOR PRETTY POISON; BEHOLD THE GLORY OF GOD IN CHRIST
AUGUST 29 – Job 31-33:33; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18; Psalm 43:1-5; Proverbs 22:8-9
In Job’s self-defense against his accusers, he claims to have made a covenant with his eyes.
The eye allows images to soak into our souls. What we focus on is absorbed and recorded on the internal hard drive of our memory bank, forever accessible to our personal operating system. Images can come back to haunt us, lure us, mislead, arouse, or destroy us.
Job recognizes the danger of entertaining our imaginations with lust-generating lures. Eye candy brings hollow pleasures that, once swallowed, release enslaving and corrupting influences on the heart and mind. Lust is an appetite for pretty poison.
In the Book of Leviticus, the Bible likens sin to an infectious skin disease (leprosy). Once you touch something that is unclean, you become contaminated. Lust infects your system like a toxin. Not only does it corrupt you within, but it isolates you from others and robs your potential for true intimacy in marriage. At first, your only symptom of infection is a subtle spot on the surface of the skin. It is a private matter. Only you notice it. But the rotting has begun. Soon it destroys the whole body. Sexual impurity prevents us from true communion with God and sabotages our potential to glorify God with our bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB) 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
Job does not take lust lightly:
For lust is a shameful sin; a crime that should be punished. It is a fire that burns all the way to hell. It would wipe out everything I own. (Job 31:11-12)
Yet, Job recognizes his own corruptibility in this matter. Therefore, he makes a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully upon a young woman. He predetermines to have his eyes bounce away from that which might otherwise entice him.
In the chapters to come, Job’s eyes will behold a sight so brilliant that it will turn his own comeliness to corruption and spawn a deeper repentance in his life.
As Job asserts his integrity, he calls for appropriate retribution. There are a series of “If “and “let” statements. He knows that iniquity requires punishment; wrongs done to others require compensation. He makes his appeal to God. “If I have walked with falsehood…let him weigh me with accurate scales.” “If my step has turned from the way…let me sow and another eat.” “If my heart has been enticed by a woman or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway (voyeurism)…may my wife grind another man’s grain, and may other men sleep with her”; “If I have denied justice to my manservants and maidservants…let me be brought to account.”
Job is holding himself accountable to what he knows to be right. Otherwise, he asks,
Job 31:14 14 What then could I do when God arises? And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?
Job affirms the image of God in man, even in the womb.
Job 31:15 15 “Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb?
He holds himself accountable to be compassionate towards the needs of the poor, to be ready to offer them food and clothing (Job 31:16-19).
He knows the danger of trusting in money more than God. He knows that mankind’s deceitful heart has a proclivity to idolatry, such as we find in the sun salutations of yoga.
Job 31:26-28 26 If I have looked at the sun when it shone Or the moon going in splendor, 27 And my heart became secretly enticed, And my hand threw a kiss from my mouth, 28 That too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, For I would have denied God above.
Job 31:35-36 (NASB) 35 “Oh that I had one to hear me! Behold, here is my signature; Let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written, 36 Surely, I would carry it on my shoulder, I would bind it to myself like a crown.
Jesus takes the indictment on his shoulder. He takes it in the suffering of the crown of thorns and the body of His flesh when He became the perfect sin offering for us.
Job makes an appeal for a mediator, an Advocate (as he did in 9:33). God hears that prayer and answers it perfectly in Christ.
Jesus does listen to us. He came to earth not just to observe our sufferings but to take them upon himself. He came to exercise His royal prerogative to bear them on the cross and make atonement for our sins there.
Elihu is the youngest of Job’s friends. He loudly defends his humility. He has waited long to express his thoughts, deferring to his elders. But he is bursting with what he believes is a righteous retort. Many of the things he says in his defense of God are true, but they are not applicable to Job’s situation. This will become clearer as the story progresses.
Elihu’s monologue should remind us to be careful even when we are feeling assured that we are right about a certain thing. God knows things that we do not. We would do well to take the advice of James: “Be swift to hear and slow to speak” (James 1:19).
Elihu also sees a need for a mediator.
Job 33:23-24 23 “If there is an angel as mediator for him, One out of a thousand, To remind a man what is right for him, 24 Then let him be gracious to him, and say, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’;
Jesus is that ransom.
Matthew 20:28. the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
NEW TESTAMENT READING 2 Cor 3:1-18
Paul calls us to be confident in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We preach a person, not a religion. We preach Christ, not ourselves.
The gospel has qualities that surpass the ministry of religion, as represented by the Old Covenant. Only the ministry of the new covenant of God’s grace can give lasting hope, impart the knowledge of God’s glory, and grant pardon rather than condemnation. Only the ministry of the gospel can transform us into the likeness of the Lord of Glory. Only by the Holy Spirit and the revelation of Jesus Christ through the Word are we are able to turn to God, look to Him and rely upon Him to become all that He has already made us to be. And who are we? We are part of a new creation in Christ, reflecting the light of His glory.
Are you a living letter citing what God can do to bring a soul that was dead in sin to life and transformation? May we all be living recommendation letters of what the gospel can do!
READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- Psalm 43:1-5
This Psalm is a complement to the previous Psalm, Psalm 42. We hear the repeated question, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (43:5a) and the answer “Hope in God.” (43:5b).
He begins with a plea for deliverance from an unjust man and an ungodly nation. He is experiencing spiritual depression and oppression.
Psalm 43:2 2 For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
His prayer request is one that we can echo today.
Psalm 43:3 3 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places.
As in the previous Psalm, he expresses a longing to worship in the company of God’s people and take joy in God’s presence.
Psalm 43:4 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
The Lord is his salvation, or as the NASB translates it, “the help of my countenance.”
He is our only safe haven. We need His light and His truth.
TODAY’S READING THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- Proverbs 22:8-9
Proverbs 22:8-9 8 He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish. 9 He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.
Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster.
Verse 9 reminds us that there is a reward for those who recognize the abundance of God’s merciful provisions towards them and are generous to the poor. The irony is that they are not prisoners to their selfish desires. They have a benevolent disposition, an abundance mentality and are ready to share their material blessing with those in need.
PRAY FOR THE WORLD MEXICO
(from the Prayer Guide “Operation World” available at www.operationworld.org)
United Mexican States
Area: 1,958,201 sq. km
Latin America’s third-largest country. Wide range of topography and rainfall ranging from arid northern plateau, central volcanic plateau, and the southern mountains and rain forests. Only 10% of the country is arable.
Population: 110,645,154 Annual Growth: 0.99%
Capital: Mexico City
Answer to Prayer
There is a steady growth of evangelicals, who were only 2.1% (800,000) in 1960 but are now over 8% and numbering over nine million. If anything, such growth appears to be accelerating, not slowing.
Increasing freedom for ministry continues, a contrast from the monopoly of the institutionalized church in decades past. Even the government- municipal, state and national levels- is open to evangelical work as a counter to the seemingly unsolvable problems of gangs, drug trafficking, kidnappings and violence.
The missions movement is beginning to blossom and play a greater role globally. The numbers of missionaries sent out from Mexico, mission agencies, training institutions, and mobilizing events have mushroomed in recent years..
Challenge for Prayer
Mexico is a growing nation that is still discovering its own identity. Meso-American origins, Hispanic history, and a dynamic but turbulent relationship with its neighbors all shape Mexico profoundly. This search often manifests itself through religious identity (both animist and Catholic) and the inevitable accompanying anti-Protestant sentiment. Pray that Mexicans, both indigenous and mestizo, might find their ultimate identity and destiny in the love of Christ and the purposes of God.
Many socio-economic challenges face Mexico. The state recognizes the difficulty of traditional solutions and increasingly invites Christians and churches to show initiative and partnership in meeting many human needs.
We are all aware of the enormous amount of those at the Mexican-USA border who are seeking asylum or immigration status. Pray for good government and compassionate care while at the same time respect for the law and the responsibilities of citizenship.
PRAYER: Lord, we desire to be living letters, testimonies of what Your saving grace can do. Give us a holy resolve to stay true to what we know is pleasing to You. May we hold ourselves accountable in the details of our daily living. We make a covenant with our eyes and our hearts to steer clear of idolatrous desires. Thank You for the new covenant of Your grace in which You, the Law Giver, become the Law Keeper in our hearts, teaching us to say no to ungodliness and yes to that which is right, good, and honoring to Your Nature. We ask that You continue to send forth Your light and Your power through the ministry of Your church. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)