Have you ever visited a friend in the hospital, or perhaps gone to their home when they were sick? I’m sure if you have, you had a heart to comfort them.
What if YOU were sick and a friend came to you and told you the reason you were sick is because you were wicked? What if they told you the reason your loved ones died is because they were horrible sinners? Believe it or not, there are some people out there who have that kind of theology (beliefs). Job’s friends were such people. They were convinced that everything that happened to Job and his family was because they deserved it.
Job called them “miserable comforters.” (Job 16:2)
Job said, if I were visiting you it would be a lot different.
Job 16:5 (NKJV) “But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.”
If I had to guess, I would say that not only did Job’s friends have an errant theology, but they questioned the way job questioned God. They didn’t appreciate Job’s transparency. They didn’t have the book of Psalms, another poetic book in the Bible where David and other Psalmists wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Job wonders how God would deliver him to the ungodly, how God had turned him over to the hands of the wicked (Job 16:11). Listen to some of the complaints of Job against God:
Job 16:12–14 (NKJV) “I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; He has set me up for His target, 13 His archers surround me. He pierces my heart and does not pity; He pours out my gall on the ground. 14 He breaks me with wound upon wound; He runs at me like a warrior.”
Job was hurting with a pain most of us will never have to experience. He couldn’t understand how God would allow this. He felt his friends were mocking him – none of them were wise (Job 17:2, 10).
It’s encouraging that in the middle of all this, however, Job gave himself a boost of confidence – he KNEW he was innocent:
Job 17:9 (NKJV) “Yet the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger.”
What a beautiful verse for those of us who know the Lord. Even if we’re in the middle of a fiery trial, we must hold to God’s way. Don’t be swayed away Let’s keep our hearts and hands clean, if we do, we will grow to be stronger and stronger.
Job’s “friend” Bildad responds by accusing him of being wicked (Job 18:5). He tells Job that the wicked are forgotten – his memory perishes from the earth (Job 18:17), that his children will die (Job 18:19). Bildad even accuses Job of not knowing the Lord, reiterating his opinion that Job was wicked. Wow…how wrong he was!
Job 18:21 (NKJV) “Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him who does not know God.”
Job’s friends were only making things worse. Notice Job’s response:
Job 19:2 (NKJV) “How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words?”
Job’s not backing down to some sort of superficial relationship with God, he continues to pour our his heart, it’s just how he feels.
He felt as if God had wronged him (Job 19:6) that God was breaking him down on every side – that he had no hope (Job 19:10). It seemed as if everyone abandoned him, his brothers, his acquaintances, his relatives, his close friends, his family, even his servants saw him as a stranger – an alien.
Job was in excruciating pain, in every way possible. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment:
Job 19:19–20 (NKJV) “All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me. 20 My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.”
He cries out:
Job 19:21 (NKJV) “Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me!”
Now, you and I know the whole story. We know that it’s the devil who administered this pain upon Job, but it WAS God who allowed it. We also know that sometimes people say things they don’t mean, at least not the “good” side of us. When our children were young they said things that they didn’t really mean, and we showed them grace…right? This is the approach God takes with Job. God knows that deep inside, his son had faith. Let’s close this section with those beautiful words of Job.
Job 19:25–26 (NKJV) “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”
Do you know this? Jesus our Redeemer will rule on earth, from Jerusalem. Do you know that the worst thing that can happen to us is death – but that’s not a bad thing, it only opens the door for us to see God face-to-face.
1 Corinthians 16:1-24
As Paul closes the letter he completes his request regarding the collection for Christians in Jerusalem. The Christians in Jerusalem had been hit with a famine and had suffered financially for they were persecuted by the Jews. Paul asks the Corinthians to set aside a little something on the first day of the week, which is another indication that the early church gathered together on Sundays (see also Acts 20:7). I thought it was interesting how Paul didn’t want a collection when he arrived. We’re not sure why, but it may simply be that he didn’t want to be the one to personally ask for funds as a form of manipulation. His principles for giving still apply as we are to give periodically, proportionately, and willingly. The funds were to be handled with accountability (they would send “bearers” with their gifts).
We see in 1 Corinthians 16:5-7 that Paul had his travel plans, but it was all according to the will and permission of the Lord. At the time of writing, Paul said he would stay in Ephesus because of the open doors of ministry he had there, even though there were many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:8). It’s a lesson for us that often times rough waters of opposition are actually a good sign – that you’re right where God wants you to be. Don’t run away from the devil, resist him, and he will eventually run away from you.
Pastor Chuck said this, “Paul would never run from a fight. When he saw the enemies, he took it as evidence that God was about to do something exciting. I wonder how many great opportunities we miss and how many open doors we walk away from, because we get scared away by adversity. Our attitude should be, ‘Resist the devil and HE will flee from YOU!’” (James 4:7)
Timothy had the same heart and mindset as Paul, so he asks that the Corinthian church receive him well, that they not despise him (Timothy was relatively young). They were to send him on his journey with peace.
Paul wanted Apollos to come to the Corinthians, but Apollos was not willing to at the time. This didn’t upset Paul, he respected everyone’s personal walk and calling from Christ (1 Corinthians 16:12).
And then comes one of my favorite verses of all:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV) “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”
Those are great passages to memorize and to put into practice every day of our lives. The enemy is constantly coming against us, he wants to sift us as wheat (Luke 22:31). We therefore need to watch and pray (Matthew 26:41), we mustn’t back down. God help us to be brave, to be strong…and let ALL that we do, be done with love! Wow, those are great marching orders!
Paul closes with some general instructions on esteeming the leadership there in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:15-16), how he was blessed by their ministry (1 Corinthians 16:17-18).
Paul includes greetings from Asia; and there’s Aquila and Priscilla again, with the church meeting in their house (1 Corinthians 16:19). They were such a faithful couple.
What a heavy warning we have in 1 Corinthians 16:22, along with a beautiful prayer for Christ to come. We have that prayer for grace (1 Corinthians 16:23 – how we need that), and Paul’s genuine expression of love for the people (1 Corinthians 16:24) a great way to end the letter. God help us to love one another (John 13:34-35).
We seem to find ourselves in this place frequently. You would think after all these years (for some of us) we’d of “arrived” by now…but no, not on this side of time. We will struggle. We sometimes feel as if we’re in a pit and need the Lord to pull us up and out. When He does (every time) we often have a new song of praise (Psalm 40:3) and are reminded of His wonderful works and innumerable thoughts towards us (Yes, God always has you on His mind).
Psalm 40:5 (NKJV) “Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”
Psalm 40:6-8 is a prophecy of Jesus (Hebrews 10:5-9) how in this “scroll of the book, it is written of Him.” The Bible is all about Jesus (John 5:39). You can open the Bible anywhere and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In the Old Testament it’s Jesus predicted. In the Gospels it’s Jesus manifested. In the book of Acts it’s Jesus preached. In the Epistles it’s Jesus explained, and in the book of Revelation, it’s Jesus Returned.
Psalm 40:9-10 elaborates on how Jesus has given us the final formal Word from His Father (Hebrews 1:1-2). It’s also a good source of inspiration for all those who seek to speak His Word to the people He loves.
Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV) “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
A good name is not necessarily the choice our parents made for us when they named us. No, “a good name” is a choice we make for ourselves. For you see, a good name is in reference to the reputation we’ve earned by the life we’ve lived, which results in the association assigned to our name.
For example, there’s an infinite difference between the names Billy Graham and Adolf Hitler. Parents might call their boys Billy, but not Adolf.
When people hear your name…my name…what comes to mind?
You see a good name is chosen, by choosing to love God and others. Ultimately, that good name goes hand-in-hand with Christian character; we should want it more than riches, and if we had to choose, I pray we’d rather have a good name and loving favor – than any amount of silver and gold.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.