when your problem is its own solution

The Word for today:
Job 6:1 — 7:21

mark this: Job 7:17-18

The Bible is full of irony.

When the results of a set of circumstances don’t match up with what we might expect, that’s ironic.

That a solitary warrior’s death on a cross marks the victory of light and life over darkness and death is the opposite of what we would expect.

One of the ironies of life, and of Scripture, is that often the problem is its own solution. Whatever was going on in Job’s life, it worked; all of the suffering and anguish–it worked.

What was going on throughout the book of Job? Looking at the big picture, God is delivering, transforming, saving, winning. Job is a picture of your transformation (“Ouch!”). The book of Job is about a process.

Don’t look for answers in Job. Look for process. The process is the answer; Job’s problems are the solution.

Bible reading isn’t so much a search for answers as it is time spent with God. The answer isn’t in a verse or a theological principle. The real answer is the Bible’s effect upon you–the Word becomes flesh not only for Jesus, but for all who avail themselves of its transforming power day by day.

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scene through our window

The Word for today:
Job 4:1 — 5:27

mark this: Job 5:7-9

Satan implies that people don’t love God for God Himself, but because of all the good things He gives us. God contends that if all of Job’s material blessings were taken away, Job would remain faithful. So the testing begins, as one calamity after another strikes Job’s life.

The reader must understand that Job is never made aware of many things the reader knows. Job doesn’t know anything about the conversation between God and Satan which prompts Job’s testing and all his calamities.

The Bible doesn’t claim to reveal everything about God. It doesn’t claim to reveal everything about His universe. We are given only what we need to know. We are left in the dark about so many things.

Cosmic purposes–purposes that we are not aware of–are behind many of the things we find inexplicable. Job’s suffering has a purpose that he could not understand.

We are not going to be shown every card in God’s hand. There are times when all we’re going to know is that God is in charge and He’s putting his whole heart into it as He works out a perfect plan. Whatever we’re dealt, we’re to trust that God knows about it and has a purpose for it.

When Jesus told the disciples He must suffer and die on a cross, they just didn’t get it. They were not aware of what was at stake, or how any good could ever result from such suffering.

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the voice of strangers

The Word for today:
Job 1:1 — 3:26

mark this: Job 1:6-12

God allows Satan to test your character–not in order to see if your faith will fail, but to prove that your faith will succeed.

Satan will accuse Job, belittle him, and try to undermine his confidence in God. He will strike at Job’s family, his possessions, his health.

Job’s friends–and even his wife–will throw a lot of half-baked philosophy at him, mixed in with some ill-informed religion.

God allows all of this so that Job’s relationship with God will deepen. By the end of the story, Job will know a deeper trust in a bigger God than he had known before.

Remember these principles as the story unfolds:
Evil cannot proceed further than the end of the chain God’s got Satan tied up with.
God will use evil (when that’s all He’s got to work with) to bring about good.

A cosmic wager has been made and we’re about to see it played out. Job and his friends will contest each other in speeches which often resemble poetic trash talk.

The Bible student must take care to consider just who is speaking at any given moment. Throughout the Bible, we will hear God’s prophets pronounce His truth; above all, we will see His Word lived out (1) in the life of Jesus. But we will also encounter voices that do not represent God’s outlook.

By the end of the story, God has heard enough of whatever Job’s friends have been spouting and tells them so–I am angry at you because you have not told the truth about me (2).

So pay attention to just who is speaking whenever you read the Bible. Do they speak for God, or — like Satan and Job’s friends — are they speaking for themselves?

Over time, as you get to know God better and better, you will be able to tell the difference between His voice and the voices that are only pretending to speak for Him:
My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me (3). They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers (4).

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(1) John 1:14; (2) Job 42:7; (3) John 10:27; (4) John 10:5

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spiritual warfare

The Word for today:
Ephesians 6:10-24

mark this:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Christians do not fight an enemy who is flesh and blood. We are not to fight other men. The enemy is spiritual, and the warfare is spiritual. Spiritual forces are abroad in this world, fighting against the believer, against the church, against Jesus Christ.

In Daniel 10:1-13, we hear an astonishing report from an angel. On the first day that Daniel began praying, an angel was sent to him. But Daniel kept on praying for three weeks, thinking his prayer was unanswered. So where was the angel for those three weeks? He’d been detained as he struggled with a demon, and could not break through until the angel Michael brought reinforcement.

In 2 Kings 6:15-17, God’s people, Israel, were surrounded by the enemy nation of Syria. There were many soldiers, horses, and chariots of war. When the prophet Elisha’s servant saw the great force of the enemy he was afraid. He cried out to Elisha, “What shall we do?”

Fear not, Elisha told him, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
Then Elisha prayed that God would open the servant’s eyes and allow him to see the spirit world. The request was granted, and his servant saw the spiritual forces of God surrounding Israel.

The battle lines are drawn wherever the Word of God is taught, wherever the Good News–salvation from sin and eternal life with God through Jesus Christ–is proclaimed. This blog, for example, is an insurgence into the enemy’s realm, a threat to his holdings.

Return often to Ephesians 6:10-20 as you learn more and more about your Bible, about Jesus, about God’s armor–the belt, the breastplate, the footwear, the shield, the helmet.

Learn to wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, against the enemy–as Jesus used it to defeat Satan in the wilderness (1).

And do not fear this enemy. Greater is He who is within you–the Spirit of God–than he who is in the world (2).

The Captain of our salvation (3)–Jesus Christ–has won this fight; while the enemy, in reluctant retreat, is allowed to play out the full effects of pride for all to see.

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(1) Matthew 4:1-11; (2) 1 John 4:4; (3) Hebrews 2:10

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Bring it!

The Word for today:
Ephesians 5:3 — 6:9

mark this:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

The image of God — His likeness that His children bear — is not a passive thing that sits still, like a new paint job on the outside to make us look good.

Don’t think of the image of God as a painting, but as a movie projector, showing the life of Jesus to the world. The image of God is something we broadcast, something that shines out to the darkness. We bring the image of God to the world.

Those who promote the religion of man–faith in self, not in God–broadcast their agenda, too, trying to snuff out the image of God in the world. But they will not win this battle:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (1).

Before I turned to follow God, I was not just in darkness, I was darkness itself:
For you were once darkness.

I, not God, brought the teardrop into my life and into the lives of others.

Now, bearing God’s image restored, I am not just in the light, I am light:
You are the light of the world (2).

So shine (3). Project. Bring it.

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(1) John 1:5; (2) Matthew 5:14 (3) Matthew 5:16

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