Lessons From Job – On Friendship

There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV). I have had a few, those who would listen and simply be there. Such was not the case with  the friends of Job. When things go wrong, when he’s suffering physically and emotionally, his friends assume the worst. You must have some secret sin. You can fool us but you can’t fool God.

Amazingly, bad theology led to bad friendships. Who would have thought such a thing? And yet Job experienced this first hand. Good theology matters, not just for us but for those around us. Thankfully, we don’t need to have it all right now in order to have good friendships. But we should continue to grow, continue to get to know God more.

Ironically, it’s often through our imperfect relationships that this happens. If we’re willing to humble ourselves and learn.

How do your views of God affect your friendships. How have your friendships affected your views on God.

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Lessons From Job – On Prosperity

We often associate God’s blessings with material prosperity (and yes, health). Honestly, I’ve struggled with what I believe and, more importantly, discerning truth in this area.

Abraham was blessed and loaded. Isaac and Jacob did well financially too. God promised prosperity if His people would obey him in the Promised Land. Jesus Himself probably had resources (Judas embezzled from something after all) and some wealthy benefactors.

And then there’s Job. Blessed by God as evidenced by his wealth…until it all gets stripped away. Not only his wealth, but his children and health as well. So what can we learn from Job about material prosperity?

God can and does bless through material possessions (Job 1:11, 42:12). On top of this, the rich can live with integrity, righteousness, and the fear of the Lord.

But…prosperity is not God’s ultimate measure of a person’s life. And herein lies the problem of the perspective of Job’s friends. They made prosperity and health the measure of Job’s standing before God. And, especially in the west, we can do the same, usually below the level of our consciousness.

But what if God doesn’t ultimately seek our financial well being but intimacy with him?

“I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5, NLT). In the end, Job got to know God in a way he had never known before. And so can we. For ultimately that is what God wants and what we were created for.

A Little Less Suffering Please

Read Acts 9:1-16
God actually sends Saul on his mission knowing that Saul will suffer…a lot.

In some cases, God sends us into situations where we must face our fears, and, like Ananias, we experience God’s deliverance. Nothing painful actually happens. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I expect God to work. After all, I trust, I step out, of course God will come through.

Sometimes though, like Saul, God sends us and He doesn’t  deliver us from going through suffering. But God is still good and we need to know He always works for good, though it may not always seem like it in the moment.

For all that he went through, look at the impact he had, the lives that were touched in his present and even in ours. Consider the heavenly rewards he received and will continue to be showered with.

Do you think he would trade it for a little more comfort, a little less suffering? Would you?

How We See God

Read Acts 5:1-11

We tend to think of God like a kind and loving grandfather, we get so comfortable with Him we forget that He is THE powerful king, righteous judge, and author and sustainer of life.

The fear of the Lord is not necessarily a bad thing, it simply means we are recognizing God is greater than what we could think or imagine.

How do you see God?

Discerning Opportunities

Read Acts 3

Sometimes we miss opportunities because we’re too busy, we get caught up in the stuff we’re supposed to be doing or think we should be doing. Peter and John were supposed to be at the prayer meeting at 3 pm. It would have been easy to blow off the guy asking for money. After all, they were busy guys and they needed to be at this prayer gathering at a specific time.

Sometimes we miss opportunities because we’re so much in a routine that we don’t see the possibilities in the ordinary events in our day to day lives. That too could have been the case with Peter and John. They almost certainly went to the temple on a regular basis for this time of prayer. And almost certainly, this guy, as well as many other beggars, had lined the streets or sat near the gates to the temple in order to beg from those going into the Temple. Day after day they go to the Temple for prayer, day after day they see this guy (and others) begging for money. Day after day they walk past him.

But as Peter and John continued in the Word, prayer, fellowship, and Communion they discerned this opportunity to change an ordinary encounter to an extraordinary opportunity to bring God’s healing, grace, and salvation, not only into this man’s life, but the life of hundreds of others.

Are you ready to discern the opportunities of the Kingdom today?

Devoted

Read Acts 2:14-47

Devote – to give most of your time, energy, attention to someone/something (Oxford Dictionary).

The believers gave their time, energy, and attention to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread, and to prayer.

Though it started with an initial event and decision, it didn’t stop there. They continually did this. And as they did, there was a change in appetites and desires.

The life of the Kingdom is more than a one time event. There is a process of growth that comes as we choose to give our time, energy, and attention to Jesus.

Will you devoted yourself in that way today?

Ordinary People

Read Acts 3:12 – 4:13

“…they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures”. Yet the insights and power of Peter’s words pierced the hearts of men and confounded the wise on more than one occasion (e.g. Acts 2:37).

We don’t need to be scholars for God to work through us (though Paul certainly was).

Peter and John were fisherman, just ordinary men, who spent time with Jesus, were filled with the Spirit, and were familiar with the Word. And God worked through them. He’ll work through us too, simple, ordinary people who are willing to follow God’s call to spend time with his Son, be led and empowered by His Spirit, and who keep getting more and more familiar with His Word.

You are ordinary. And that is enough. Let God work through you today.

Fasting

Read Esther 4

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the fast. Of all the Christian disciplines, fasting is the hardest for me. I’ve struggled with the right heart and motivation. Yet it’s seen throughout the Bible. Here is what I’m learning about it.

Living in an age of distraction, the temptation is to seek to numb or ignore pain. Through fasting, we acknowledge the pain and the problem behind it. We deliberately choose to seek God’s help and to enter into His presence in the midst of those challenges.

We don’t earn God’s favor or even necessarily a reprieve from our trouble. Rather, we wholeheartedly commit ourselves to Him in the midst of the circumstances.

What troubles and trials are you encountering? Are you willing to put aside that which would medicate and/or avoid the pain (be it food, entertainment, activity, etc) and find your strength only in God?

When God Seems Absent

Read Esther 2:1-20

Not your classic romance novel (I’m guessing, can’t say that I ever read one). King dumps queen. King holds beauty contest for new queen. Girl gets forcibly entered into contest.

Sure, she wins the contest and ends up as queen, but really, I’m not sure this was the man of her dreams. I’m sure no one even bothered to ask her.

Yet regardless of her circumstances, and what could easily be perceived as the absence of God (Esther is the only book in the Bible where God is not mentioned), you see God working. Esther certainly did, walking out faith even when she could not know what was ahead. And God saved a nation.

God may not use us to save a nation but He’s still at work in us and through us. Will we trust Him in the process when He seems absent?