Righteous Determination

The story of Job is widely known. In Chap 2, we see the scene in heaven with the dialog between God and Satan and God says “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the Earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity…”

Much deeper into the account of Job’s tragic affliction and misguided friends’ counsel – Job himself states in 27:6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”

What can we glean here?

(1) Job’s will is aligned with God’s will – his goal is avoiding sin and pursuing righteousness, even in tragic circumstances and in the face of conflicting advice his focus is pleasing God. (2 Cor 5:9) Can we say we have this righteous determination?

(2) Note that this verse implies there is “reproach” in our heart when we sin – aka “guilty feelings”. The old adage here is in effect – do right and feel right. (Remember Cain? Gen 4:6). Job knows that all sin brings pain – do we forget it sometimes and selfishly pursue it anyway? I do.

It’s worth noting that we are not pursuing these things to earn favor with God – for we have nothing to offer him except our sin. He is the one who initiated reconciliation through his son Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection – and only in him do we find righteousness. We pursue righteousness because that is our identity – that is who we are now – because of the new birth we have in Jesus. As Job himself said in 9:3 “how can a man be right before God?” Answer: only by faith in Jesus.

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Repentance and Restoration – Job Part 3

Well, today…almost unexpectedly it seems we finish Job.

In the last few chapters of the book God continues to answer Job by reminding him of who God is – that nothing can compare to him and his knowledge and his strength…and that basically everything is because of him.   “Who has first given it to me, that I should repay him?  Whatever is under the whole earth is mine?”

In Chapter 42 Job practices a vital…critical…paramount…really really really important Christian discipline — confession and repentance.

This is not something we do once when we “accept Jesus into our hearts”  (gag) – we need to do this each and every day, as we sin each and every day and therefore we need to live in the power of the gospel each and every day.  I read from the Valley of Vision this morning and this one phrase caught me in it’s simplicity and accuracy: “My sin is not so much this or that particular evil, but my continual separation, disunion, distance from them, and having a loose spirit towards thee.”  Most of us aren’t going to go out today and lie or steal, but as much as those things are sins – God is also as much if not more interested in the states of our hearts.  Are they fully devoted to Christ?

Job began to have pride in his heart, began to question God. Yes he suffered tremendous tragedy, and in those moments it is very tempting to question God and think that we know better – but the bottom line is we don’t and he is God.  He loves us and is still sovereign.  Even in those moments, there is repentance that needs to happen which Job models for us here.

Job in 42 says “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know….therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Now, don’t walk away from that thinking the Bible is telling us to despise ourselves. That word in the Hebrew can also be translated as “reject” so think of it as rejecting your own selfishness and pride.  You know…take up your cross, die to yourself?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)

Confession and repentance is simply agreeing that you are headed down the wrong path and turning away from the direction you are going and turning towards God in Christ Jesus.

Mark Driscoll this week also spoke of repentance in his message “Jesus and Repentance.” If you can – throw this on your iPod and give this a listen.  It’s an hour – but it’s a great word.  I strongly encourage you to listen.  In there he noted that repentance requires 3 elements:

  1. Confession – owning up to the wrong and speaking it out loud. Use Biblical words, not man words.
  2. Contrition – there should be a sense of sadness or seriousness, never glib
  3. Change – there has to be a change brought about by the Holy Spirit as you stand before Christ and others with a pure heart and a sincere faith

Then we see God restore Job. Which makes me immediately think of  1 Peter 5:10 where God promises to restore us.  Now remember that may not mean physical material blessings, but it will always mean right standing before God and a return of the light and the weightless joy that only God can bring only in Christ.   Then turn to him in passionate WORSHIP!

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(1 Peter 5:10 ESV)

Perspective in Trials | Dress like a man.

So…finally…38 Chapters into the story of Job – the LORD answers him.

We’ve seen the unbelievable tragedy and suffering that Job is enduring, we’ve seen his 3 dopey friends try and sell him bad theology – that if you do what is right (and don’t go see R-Rated movies, and go to church a lot, and don’t drink/curse/chew or hang out with girls that do) that your life will be happy and prosperous and everything will be peachy.  If not if you are a “bad” person and do those “bad” things then you will have a hard life…so by simple math – Job must be a “bad” person otherwise all this suffering wouldn’t be upon him…God clearly is punishing him.

NOT.

Job’s friends have some skewed theology.  [Side note:  see how vital it is to have solid Biblical theology?!  We need to spot bad counsel by comparing it to the Word of God!]

Truth is – you can do all the things you are “supposed to do” and be a “good person,” and still get cancer.  You’ve girlfriend can dump you.  You can have massive problems with your kids or be unable to find a job.  One of the underlying themes of Job is that hard times are not necessarily a punishment from God.

But…how do we react during hard times?  Do we feel as though we should not be having them at all?  Wish for them to be over as quickly as possible so that life can return to “normal?”  Job spends nearly 3 chapters whining about all the reasons why this shouldn’t be happening to him. (Job 29-31).  He is not reacting very well.  His perspective is definitely starting to be skewed here.

What is your perspective?  The Bible warns us that suffering and hardship are in fact “normal”  for this life.  (see 2 Tim 3:12; John 16:33).  It is infinitely more difficult to deal with hardship when you start from the perspective that it should NOT be happening to you.  We need to gain the Biblical perspective here.  It SHOULD be happening.  Life is hard.  Sin is here.  Evil is around.  We have an enemy and we need to battle him daily with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!

We also need to understand that God is completely sovereign. There is absolutely nothing that escapes his notice and he subjugates everything for the main purpose of everything:  for HIS glory.  So it is always about God, not us primarily. We would do well to remember this:  everything God does is for His glory.  When we are in trials, it is a chance for God to work in us more intensely and we need to handle the hard time correctly and wisely in order to grow and bring glory to God.  Hard times produce in us a Godliness that we just don’t get when life is just “peachy.”

One of the most abused verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28.  Christians tend to be in the midst of hard times, find that verse, read it and say “Oh. Cool.  This is going to work for MY good.” Then close the Bible, define the good themselves, and then experience crushing disappointment and loss of faith when their idea of good is not fulfilled.  You cannot understand Romans 8:28 without verse 29.  There the “good” is defined.   “For those he foreknew (again…God’s sovereignty here), he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”   That’s the good!  That we look more like Jesus.  Not that the trial is over and we return to ‘normal happy life.’

Our BBW is “Sanctification” – my friend Wayne Grudem defines it as “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”  (Systematic Theology, pg 746)

I have found that Christians spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out the exact lesson that God is trying to teach them in any given trial.  There is an element of truth to that, but we can go too far with that too.  We generally spend far too much time trying to determine the thoughts of God, and we cannot do that – the Bible tells us that his ways are above our ways, and his thoughts are above our thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9).

Driscoll nailed it this week.  He said “God doesn’t give us answers to all of our questions. He gives us Jesus.”

Love it.

Don’t focus on the why, focus on the WHO.  God.  God gives us Jesus so that we can be reconciled with  him – all of our selfish pride and 9 million other sins were paid for by the perfect one who never sinned, who took the punishment for sin that I deserved so that now by faith and the gift of grace I am right before God.   My job now is to look, act, smell, be more like Jesus in my life every day.  That’s hard work and bad stuff happens.  But in it we need to rest that God is sovereign and he is working all things for HIS glory and my sanctification – which is ultimately a good thing for me.

Stop trying to figure things out and start yielding yourself to Jesus.  Search your heart with an open Bible, a steaming hot cup of coffee, and eyes wet with tears that God would strengthen you in this trial to bear it for his glory.   Pray that he will reveal your heart to you and give him all of it.  He promises that he will be found if we seek him with ALL our heart.  (Jer 29:13).

It is impossible to have the perspective that God has.  He is GOD, that is his job, not ours.  God kinda tears into Job right from the start of Chapter 38 – “Who is this that darkens my counsel without knowledge? Dress for action like a man.”  He is saying in a sense “OK, Job.  I’ve heard enough.  You have really no idea what you are talking about because you are not me, never will be me, and don’t know everything I do.  Get ready, put your big boy pants on because I’m going to school you.”

He spends 4 chapters reminding Job of who he is.

Then…well…let’s just wait and see what happens in the last chapter, shall we?

Sorry, this turned out to be kind of a longish rant – but having gone through quite a season in 2010 – this is on my heart.

 

If only there were an arbiter!

Into Job now…

Besides verse 1:20 which just blows me away continually that after all the devastation, what does Job do?

“…tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped.”

He WORSHIPED.  He said “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  After everything that just happened in v13-19.  He literally throws himself down before the Lord in submission and worships him.  Amazing.  Nuts.  Wow.

Fast forward – Job’s friends are trying to “rationalize”  with him, suggesting that he must have done something wrong to deserve this.  Yet, the Bible clearly says he did not. (1:1 – ‘he was blameless and upright’).  In one of his rebuttals to his well-meaning friends he says of him and God–

There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.

Oh…but there will be.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man – the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

We are not hopeless.  God has provided the arbiter in Jesus!  He has mediated between us and God with his perfect life of obedience and his cross – justifying us. Faith in who Jesus was and what he did reconciles us to God – restores us.  Jesus “lays his had on us both” – us and God and makes all things new.  Praise God for his mercy, grace, and love for providing us our arbiter, Jesus!

Bringing us back from the pit

I’m in Job.

I’ll be you thought I was going to say I was in a pit?

Nope, I’m in Job.  In my Chrono read that is.

Actually, I’m having  a bit of  a hard time slugging thru this book, it’s a bit less clear than I thought I recalled.

I have to keep the big picture in mind here – that God has allowed tremendous trial to come upon Job and despite the misguided advice of his friends, Job’s sin isn’t the cause of this.  That is clear from the opening in Chapter 1.

But Job’s buddies don’t know about what brought on these trials, so their advice is centered on Job thinking that he is righteous, when he obviously couldn’t be or else why would this all be happening?

Even in that, his buddies do hit on some truths in their advice.  After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I was struck in Job 33 when it’s Mr. Elihu’s turn to try and make sense of this.  I like him right away because he is respectful of the elders and waits his turn to vent, but still he vents nonetheless and carries on about how Job is “not right” (33:12).

But he does hit some truths in all that:

  • the Spirit of God made us and given us life (v4)
  • we are all equal as humans (“pinched off from a piece of clay” – v6)
  • God is greater than man (v12)
  • God speaks in ways sometimes that we don’t understand (v14)
  • He opens ears to hear his message (v16)

Look at the progression here.  Its the gospel.  God has created us, we are all “equal” in our sin (Rom 3:23), God is greater than us and worthy of glory and worship, yet we miss the many ways (like creation Rom 1:20) that He calls us to himself.

Ultimately, he is calling us to himself as our redeemer.  A theme that pops up in Job every now and again, as it does here.

God also speaks to us thru trials and difficulties (duh, this IS Job here…) and he pursues us.  He wants us to see him as our redeemer and he will be faithful in pursuing us:

29“Behold, God does all these things,
twice,(AR) three times, with a man,
30to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with(AS) the light of life.

I know this to be true in my own life. God faithfully pursued me, as I pursued a life of rebellion against him years ago.  There were times that I actually felt him saying to me “Are you SURE you want to keep living like this? You know what to do.  Return to me…” Enter Jesus.  He is how God brings us back from the pit and lights us with the light of life.  Jesus exchanged his life for mine.

Thank you God, for pursuing me and redeeming me thru Jesus.  If it weren’t for him, I would most certainly be in that pit.

Job 9 – We do have a mediator!

Day 5 of the “Chrono Read” has me smack dab in the middle of Job – and we see Job crying out to the Lord after getting some questionable advice from his friend.  Job has lost his house, his family and now he is covered in itchy painful sores from his head to his toe, sitting in the dirt and scratching his sores with broken pieces of pottery. That’s pretty low.

BUT…You see, Job is completely innocent here – he did nothing to bring this trial on.  Certainly not sin as his pal suggested.  Job is also keeping his perspective – in the midst of that he gives an awe-inspiring reminder of who God is:

1Then Job answered and said:
2“Truly I know that it is so:
But how can a man be(A) in the right before God?
3If one wished to(B) contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
4He is(C) wise in heart and mighty in strength
—who has(D) hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
5he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
when he overturns them in his anger,
6who(E) shakes the earth out of its place,
and(F) its pillars tremble;
7who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
8who alone(G) stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the sea;
9who(H) made(I) the Bear and(J) Orion,
the Pleiades(K) and the chambers of the south;
10who does(L) great things beyond searching out,
and marvelous things beyond number.
11Behold, he passes by me, and I(M) see him not;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
12Behold, he snatches away;(N) who can turn him back?
(O) Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

In light of who God is…who will say to him – “What are you doing?”  Job knows he didn’t do anything to bring this on,  but he also knows who God is.  There is another thing – in light of who God is – who would Job go to as a “mediator” or as he says an “arbiter?”  Who could possibly stand in front of this God and contend with him?

32For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should(AQ) come to trial together.
33(AR) There is no[d] arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.

I love reading thru the whole Bible, particularly in the OT with passages like this where it leaves a giant question mark.  It causes tension to enter in…the thought of “Yeah…we have no mediator…what are we going to do?!!”

Enter Jesus.

That’s what we are going to do.

The OT points to Christ and the cross.

1 Tim 2:5-6 –

5For(H) there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6(I) who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is(J) the testimony given(K) at the proper time.

Jesus Christ is that mediator between us and God.  He is the only mediator that is possible – as he is fully God!  God provided him as a sacrifice to pay for our sins and reconcile us to God.

Jesus answers Job’s question in v2 – ‘How can a man be right before God?’ – Thru Jesus and his cross.

AMEN!