Archive for February, 2014

Where Can I Find It? (Job 28; I Corinthians 14)

February 27, 2014

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”  Job 28:32

Last week, while having a lunch meeting with a dear brother, my wife texted me with a simple three item list of things she wanted me to pick up at Sam’s since my lunch meeting was so close.  As soon as my meeting was completed, I found myself on a quest to retrieve these items.  Two were fairly easy, but the third was a challenge.  Yes I know I should have asked for help, but I am a man!!!  After a good search, I determined the product was no longer available.  I felt that I was successful in 2 out of 3 items.  At least until I got home and discovered that I had gotten the wrong brand in one of the two items.  So goes the quest for finding what my wife needed.

In a much more significant search, Job is seeking wisdom in his present circumstances.  In this chapter Job helps us to understand 4 things about wisdom.  Lets dig them out together:

1.  Wisdom’s price, Vs:18

Job teaches us that wisdom (true wisdom) is of greater value than the richest pearl ever produced in our world.  It cannot be obtained by men (on their own). Yes, men can mine gold and other precious metals.  Yes, men can do great feats in the world, but true wisdom escapes man.

2.  Wisdom’s possession, Vs: 23-27

God is the embodiment of wisdom.  He alone has established wisdom.

3.  Wisdom’s path, Vs: 28

God offer’s wisdom to all who turn from their sin and seek Him (This is the awe of God).

Think it through:

This is what it means to fear God.  As a follower of Christ I understand this to be the awe of God.  You and I can spend our entire lives mining the gold of God’s wisdom.  In the end, we will not have even come close to examining the extent of God’s wisdom.  For all of eternity we will be examining the gold of God’s wisdom.

4.  Wisdom’s productivity

As we turn from evil (Vs: 28) and pursue God, we will discover the impact in our daily lives.  Psalm 110:11 “The world will see the awe of God in our lives.”

Our take away:

I do not want the world to see me as a person who is spiritually wandering around the store of life looking for things that have no value.  I want to be seen as a person who is living in awe of God!

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Wasting Everything (I Corinthians 13; Job 27)

February 26, 2014

“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  I Cor. 13:3

He had such wonderful ability. There was nothing he could not do on the basketball court.  In his early days, he was the envy of many people who knew him.  But in the end, he wasted everything!!!  The once humbly and selfless young man turned into an arrogant and selfish adult who could no longer find a team that would connect with him.

Spiritually speaking, Paul is sharing truth about the subject of exercising spiritual gifts.  In chapter 12 we find a listing of spiritual gifts and we find a valuable lesson concerning spiritual gifts.  Here was the lesson, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Question:  “What causes a person to see this and stay focused on this very lesson?”  The answer is found in I Corinthians 13, “Love.”

Paul begins the chapter by sharing with us the outrageous example of a spiritual gifted person who wastes their gifts.  As I read those verses, 13:1-3, I came away thinking this is not just an example, this is reality.  Paul’s goal is simply this, “Christians must exercise their gifts in a spirit of love.”

Think it through:

1.  Daily recite the characteristics of love, Vs: 4-7

I wrote them down this morning and committed them to memory.  I also prayed that God would give me the grace to live them out.

2.  Daily resolve to continue in love, Vs: 8

Make this the number one priority of your Christian life.  Love God and love people.

3.  Daily center your life in love, Vs: 9-13

When you encounter a task, “love.”  When you encounter difficulties, “love.”  When you have fear and doubt, “Love.”

Take away:

If this is the pattern of your life, you will never waste even a minute in your life!!!

A desperate appeal (Job 24; I Corinthians 11)

February 24, 2014

“If it is not so, who will prove me to be a liar and show that there is nothing in what I say?”  Job 24:1

This morning my heart was greatly saddened to learn of the demise of another of God’s great warriors.  This warrior had led his church faithfully for many years.  But now he is no longer in the ministry because of a moral failure.  My heart breaks for the name of Christ and for the people of God.

This morning I am thankful to report, “Job had not failed God.”  Here in Job 24 we see the desperate appeal of Job to understand what was happening in his life.  By now, he is weary of the journey, but God will see him through.

As I prepared for this chapter, I had chapter 23 in the forefront of my thinking.  Look back to 23:10-12.  Notice the foundational facts that Job clung to in this moment:

1.  God was scrutinizing Jobs life (Accurate judgment), 23:10.

God was trying (testing Job).  Job’s confidence was in knowing that what God had worked in his life would be worked out.  Job makes three claims:

a.  I have walked in your ways without wavering.

Brothers and sisters, this is key in our lives.  We have to do more than talk faith we have to walk faith for the long haul.

b.  I have obeyed your commands.

Faith is useless unless it is a grounded faith.  Job understands the commands of God and He was obeying those commands.

c.  I have treasured your commands.

Job loved God’s Word.  It was the greatest treasure in his life.  This is why he was able to stay the course.  “I have stored up your word that I might not sin against you,”  Psalm 119:11

2.  God was sovereign in Job’s life, Vs: 13-17

In this season of life, Job did not understand everything about what God was doing. But one thing was for sure.  God knew what he was doing.  The Psalmist gave this same proclamation in Psalm 22:22-26.

Think in through:

In James 1:12 we see the same truth coming from the pen of James.  The fact is we all face the attack of the enemy and every day we have to be ready for the attack.

I want to encourage you with two actions items:

1.  Take personal responsibility for your own life,  James 1:13-15

2.  Take pleasure in knowing and doing the will of God from the heart, James 1:19-22

When these actions items occupy your life, you will not come to a demise but to a day when you will delight in bowing before the Lord in receiving the crown of life.

How can a man be right with God (Job 25-26; I Corinthians 12)

February 23, 2014

“How then can man be in the right before God?  How can he who is born of woman be pure?”  Job 25:4

This one question, above all other questions, begs to be answered in every generation.  Certainly there are questions that pull at the mind of even the most educated, such as, “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop?”  🙂

Recently I read through a brief overview of comparative religions in my studies in the book of Revelation.  As I read this wonderful commentary, I came away with this understanding:  “All men place their trust in someone or something in order to be right with their God!

We who are followers of Christ place all of our trust in Jesus (John 14:6).  We see this in every book of the Bible.  The book of Job is of no exception.

As we rejoin our studies in Job, once again Job’s friends are still trying to prove Job’s guilt before God.  Bildad asks the question of all questions in chapter 25, ““How can man be right with God?”  The sad thing about his chastising of Job is this, “he never gives a remedy for man’s problem.

But praise be unto God, Job does in chapter 26.

Think it through:

1.  Man cannot help himself in this struggle, 26:1-4

2.  The Messiah (Jesus Christ) alone helps in our struggle, 26:1-4

What man could not do, Jesus could do!!!  Here is what we understand:

a.  Jesus gives power to the weak, Vs: 2a

b.  Jesus rescues the helpless, Vs: 2b

c.  Jesus gives wisdom to the unlearned, Vs: 3a

d.  Jesus gives life to the dead, Vs: 4

When you look at the New Testament you discover this being fulfilled:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” Lk. 4:18-19

Our takeaway:

Jesus is the hope of the world.  The best way for the world to understand this is to both hear this truth and to see this truth being lived out in our lives.  Praise be unto our God for purchasing our freedom, our forgiveness, and our favored status before God!!!

Being Careful (I Corinthians 8; Job 21)

February 21, 2014

“Now concerning foods offered to idols we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”  I Cor. 8:1

“His knowledge has gone to his head.”  This statement confused my 12-year-old who is a literal thinker.  His response, “Isn’t knowledge supposed to be in our head?”  In my response, I turned John’s attention to I Corinthians 8.

In the city of Corinth there were two categories of believers, those who were weak and those who were strong in their faith.  Paul gives instruction in how they are to build each other up.  Two points that govern his instruction:

1.  There is a foundational truth:  “There is one true God.”

This is knowledge that strong (mature) believers cherish.  Such people clearly understand 8:4-6.  There is God the Father and God the Son.  They understand the work of the Spirit.  They affirm, “There is no other Gods!”

2.  There is a practical implication of the truth: “We do not worry about eating food given to idols because they are not Gods!”

This is really important.  Those who were still weak in faith had previously worshipped idols.  They had eaten food during worship times in which they were ascribing deity to these idols.  They had come to know the true God and believed he was the top God.  But they still had not put to rest these (in their minds) lessor gods.

They were offended when they saw their brothers eating food that had been offered to idols.

Think it through:

Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up.”  If the strong believers only acted out of knowledge they would eat in front of their weaker brother with no problem in doing so.  But they would hinder the cause of Christ.

Paul also wrote, “Love builds up.”  When the strong believer couples knowledge with love, he or she will lay off the food until they have in love led the weaker brother to see the great truth of their being only one true God.

Our take away:

There are so many applications we could give here.  But focus on the main point.  Jesus went to the cross for people who did not know what they did to him and they did not know they needed him.  In love he endured the cross.  In time, God would give them the knowledge of his great love.  They would repent and come to Him.

Much in the same way, we must show love first (This will often mean giving up preferences for the sake of the weaker brother).  But this will cause the gospel to be magnified in the world.

Answering Tough Questions (I Corinthians 7; Job 20)Le

February 20, 2014

“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote; ‘It it good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”  I Corinthians 7:1

Growing up in the early 1970’s was very difficult in my part of the world.  The tough questions that were being placed before our nation, Sexual activity and orientation, was not being even spoken of in our home or our church.  I can honestly say, until I became a student at Liberty University did I really find answers to life’s toughest question.  During those years I was not able to engage my fellow students because I had no answer.  This was not because there was no answer (God’s Word had the answer), I simply was not challenged to find the answer.  Today, I want to challenge to search God’s Word for each question of life.  In this you will develop a Biblical world view.

 Examine one question:  “Should I get married or should I not get married?

There are two parts to God’s answer:

1.  Our lives belong to God, Vs: 17-24

You are bought with a price.”  God has redeemed us.  Our life now belongs to God.  

2.  Our calling must be for God’s glory, Vs: 1-16, 25-40

Whether God leads us to marriage or not to marriage, we are the Lord’s.  There is much to work through here and I encourage you to take the time to work through it.   But the bottom line is this:  “Either way is ok if you are truly serving God.”

Our take away:

What areas of your life do you have unanswered questions?

Are you willing to commit your questions to God’s Word?

If you are willing to commit your questions to God’s Word, you will discover the following:  1.  God has the answer.

2.  God will connect you with others in the church who will lead you through the Word.

3.  God will use you to lead others to His answers.

Hope Beyond This Moment (I Corinthians 6; Job 19

February 19, 2014

“My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me,” Job 19:14

Sometimes you and I can get into a rut that really can be correctly identified as simply a pity party.  But there are other times when the rut is real.  There are times when the rut is so confining and so crushing that we cannot see any hope beyond the moment.

In some sense Job was in this type of rut in Job 19.  As I read the chapter I felt myself slipping down in his rut with him.  Here are a few details about Job’s rut:

1.  10 times Job has had to deal with false accusation, Vs: 2

2.  As hard as he tried, Job found no way out from his rut, Vs: 8

3.  His family has offered no comfort, Vs: 14

4.  The people in his community stay away from him, Vs: 18

5.  Physically he is only hanging by the skin of his teeth, Vs: 20

This is only a sampling of all Job was facing.  But suddenly, it’s as if Job is out of the rut, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,”  Job 19:25-26.  

Think it through:

1.  Job’s present circumstances were beyond human description.

2.  Jobs future was beyond human discernment.

Even though Job was still in a rut, he knew there was a better day ahead.  This truth lifted his spirits in the midst of his rut.  Allow me to challenge you with the same encouragement: THERE IS HOPE BEYOND THIS MOMENT.

Scriptural proof:

“Jesus has delivered us from the wrath to come,” I Thessalonians 1:10

“He has redeemed us from the pit,” Psalm 103:4

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and Redeemer,” Psalm 19:14

Take away:

As followers of Christ we have been redeemed from the pit of despair and we have been redeemed from the wrath of hell.  This day, let us join Job in speaking and thinking in acceptable ways.  Truly there is hope beyond this moment!

A shocking Report (I Corinthians 5; Job 18)

February 18, 2014

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” I Cor. 5:1

Several months ago I sat watching in almost shock as the news gave the chilling report of the killing of thousands of innocent people in Syria.  In my heart there was the outcry of vindication and the questioning of what was being done.

This must have been the same way in which Paul felt as he heard the shocking report of sin in the church at Corinth.  A man in the church was sleeping with his stepmother.

Question, “Are there any shocking reports in your life or in the life of your church?”  If so, Paul gives us a clear path to reconcile the shocking news:

1.  The church should mourn over sin, Vs: 1-2

To our surprise, the church was not in mourning.  Some were actually being arrogant.  Consider people’s responses when sin is brought to light: “No one is perfect, we are not to judge, don’t throw stones, it’s not our business, and that’s not as bad as some things.”  These responses clearly show the spirit of people who are quenching the Spirit and harboring a sinful attitude.

2.  The church should assemble and purge the sin from their midst, Vs: 3-13

How does this work?

A.  Assemble and remove the person who is sinning from the fellowship

B.  Assemble and examine our own lives to remove any sin from our lives

C.  Assemble and resolve to walk in holiness

Our response:

When the gospel is at work in a church, the church will be working at walking in Christlikeness.  The result will be shocking news to the community.  I Thessalonians 4:1-5, “They are living differently than the world.”  

Brothers and sisters, this is the news we should want the community to know about!!!

Worn Out (Job 16-17; I Corinthians 4)

February 17, 2014

“Surely now God has worn me out; he has made desolate all my company.”  Job 16:7

Last evening our youngest began to get worse with a cold.  He ended up coughing most of the night.  This meant that Sherry and I would spend a very restless night with him.  So, needless to say, “We are worn out this morning.”

Question, “Can you identify with being worn out?”  Certainly Job can identify.  Here in chapters 16 and 17 we discover Job facing things that have left him worn out before God.

Here are three things he was facing:

1.  Friends who offered no comfort:

In Vs:1 -6 we discover how Job felt about his friends.  He describes them as simply, “miserable comforters.”  As I read these words, I thought, “How many of my friends are in need of comfort this day?”  I found myself, gaining strength to reach out to others.

2.  Thoughts of former days:

In Vs: 12, Job is reminded of days gone by that were according to his own words, “days of ease.”  I again was reminded of others around me who were facing moments of great trial.  I bowed my head and gave praise to God for all the days of ease and all the days of not so much ease, but His eternal presence in my life.

3.  The grave was waiting:

As chapter 17 opens Job knows the following: “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.”  Brothers and sisters, Job is worn out.  In this moment, I find myself asking, “What hope is there for worn out people?”

Think it through:

Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.”

Job knew that his hope was in heaven!!!  Even though Job struggled to understand.  His hope was firmly planted in the King of Heaven.  Job held onto the belief that there were better days ahead (Job 19:25-26).

Brothers and sisters, this is our hope.  Because our Redeemer lives, we will someday be in heaven with Him.  There will be no long nights and there will be no days of being worn out!!!  Check out Revelation 21 for a glimpse of what is to come!!!

 

Because Of Him (I Corinthians 1; Job 13)

February 14, 2014

“He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”  I Cor. 1:30

Each day I am blessed with the honor of hearing people’s stories of life.  I am always amazed at how people are moved about from place to place with circumstances that point to one overriding truth, “There is a God in heaven who is sovereignly in charge.”

However, some people do not see this truth.  You ask, “How do you know this?”  By the way they describe the accomplishments in their lives.  In I Corinthians 1 Paul writes, “Therefore, as it is written, let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul understood, “All he had and all he was, came to him by the way of the Lord.”

An examination of I Corinthians 1 helps us to see this:

1.  The church was blessed with:

a. Salvation by grace, Vs: 4

b.  Spiritual gifts, Vs: 5-7

c.  Strengthened by grace, Vs: 8-9

2.  The church was bothered by:

a.  Division among them

b.  Disaster within them

If this church gloried in anyone other than Jesus, there would be disaster in regard to the gospel.

3.  The church must boast in:

Only in Christ do we have reason to boast

Think it through:

We have been given wisdom from God.  We have been made righteous in Christ.  We are being sanctified in Christ.  We will some day experience complete redemption.

Our take away:

1.  Spend time this day boasting only in Christ.

2.  Prepare yourself for Sunday worship.  Be filled with reasons to praise God as you approach the house of God!!!