Do you ever wish you could just have a heart-to-heart conversation with God? Audibly? You could ask Him a million questions, or maybe it’s just handful of things that are heavy on your heart. Why God? Why not God? What’s going on Lord? Am I in sin? Job wanted that with God.
Job 23:3–5 (NKJV) “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! 4 I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. 5 I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me.”
There was a lot that Job didn’t know or understand…but in the midst of it all Job makes this awesome declaration:
Job 23:10 (NKJV) “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Job didn’t know what was going on, but somehow he knew that God knew. Job knew he was being tested, he was being refined by God, and that when it’s all said and done, he would come forth as gold – stronger, deeper, more and more like the Lord (we all have plenty of room to grow – even Job did).
In the midst of his pain, Job gives us another epic passage:
Job 23:12 (NKJV) “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
May we do the same. Never wander from the Word of God. Treasure it more than the food we need to live on. That’s a huge statement isn’t it? We love food! We should love God’s Word even more.
Job goes on to vent – (understandably he’s going in different directions). One moment he’s questioning God, the next moment he’s indicting his friends, or the wicked. He usually ends up landing in a good place, for example, concerning the deeds of the wicked:
Job 24:23 (NKJV) “Yet His (God’s) eyes are on their ways.”
For the third time Bildad speaks up, briefly. He implies that Job is NOT righteous, or pure, he’s a maggot, a worm.
Technically this was true (we all are), but this was NOT why Job was going through the hard times.
Job asks his “friend” how have you helped me? How have you counseled me? (Job 26:2-3). Why do you behave with complete nonsense? (Job 27:12)
In the middle of a discourse that darts in many different directions, Job mentions in passing that God, “…hangs the earth on nothing.” This is a profound statement in the scientific realm, something not yet discovered up that point, how did Job know the earth was suspended in space? No civilization has this type of revelation in their “holy books!” Job was able to make this declaration, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 1:12–2:11
False teachers had crept into the church at Corinth in an attempt to undermine and discredit Paul, they said that he had a hidden agenda of some sort. I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:12, that they had conducted themselves “in simplicity and godly sincerity.” Those are things we should aspire to be as ministers, people who mean what we say, and say what we mean. It’s not necessary to read between the lines of our lectures. We serve as servants who are sincere – who truly love the Lord and His people.
They criticized Paul for saying he would come, and then changing his plans. Due to their critical spirit, Paul had to explain himself. Paul didn’t make his plans lightly – he wasn’t flaky, Paul was faithful. His every intention was yes and amen to the glory of God. In one sense I believe Paul was saying that as an anointed Apostle of God, with the Holy Spirit in his heart, these were the plans of God for him and them, but God had to change those plans because of their sin. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:23 that the reason he had to change those plans is because he didn’t want to go to Corinth with a heavy hand of discipline – he would first attempt to iron things out through correspondence. He even called God as his witness.
Have you ever been there? Someone wronged you and rather than going into it with a full head of steam, you ask God for wisdom on how to deal with it? You wait and bathe it in prayer? That’s what Paul had to do, and they criticized him for it.
Paul didn’t want his next visit to Corinth to be a harsh visit, he didn’t want to make them sorrowful, because in one sense, they were a source of joy for him. He was hoping that the letters he wrote would soften hearts and make things better before he actually visited them in person. He no doubt wrote his letters prayerfully, and honestly; he wrote his first letter, and especially the second letter (which we don’t have a copy of) out of anguish of heart, with many tears – he wanted them to know how much he truly loved them (2 Corinthians 2:4).
One of the issues Paul dealt with can be traced back to his first letter to the Corinthians, when a man in the congregation was sexually involved with his step-mother (1 Corinthians 5). Rather than deal with the sin, or even mourn over the sin, the Corinthians were proud of the sin – that they allowed it in their church. I suppose they thought it was a good expression of God’s grace, but it wasn’t. Paul told them to deal with the sin. If the man didn’t want to repent, he needed to be excommunicated. They followed Paul’s lead and excommunicated the man. Thankfully he repented. In light of that repentance, Paul thought that the punishment inflicted was long enough, but somehow there was a resistance to restoring the man. Paul urged them to forgive, and comfort, and reaffirm their love to him (2 Corinthians 2:8) lest Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) condemn the man.
2 Corinthians 12:10 doesn’t teach forgiveness, as the Catholic church teaches the Sacrament of Penance – forgiveness through a priest or person. It simply teaches us that someone like Paul knew the Word of God, and he knew the promise and process of restoration. Since Paul was the one who planted the church with Apostolic authority, they could follow his lead and hold to 1 John 1:9. Would they obey him in this, or would the drama continue? Pastor Chuck mentioned the tragic fact that “…unfortunately there will always be those harsh few who want to cut that person off forever…” even if they have a heart of repentance.
Many lessons for us to glean – as ministers may we be sincere and simple. We do our best to make our plans prayerfully – in the Spirit – but there will be those times when modification need to be made, a change of plans. God help us to be flexible, to show grace and understanding. As Christians we should be sources of joy for each other, let’s do our best to maintain that heart, a heart of unity, submission, and grace. Satan will do everything he can to divide and conquer, but we should know better and do better (2 Corinthians 12:11).
David was once again, going through hard times. Isn’t it amazing how many of these Psalms were songs in the “night” (Job 35:10)? I’ve noticed that when we go through spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering, these are opportunities to sing by faith, in order to deepen our walks and strengthen our witness (here we are…studying David’s writings 3,000 years later).
The enemy was trying to take David down, tempting him to lose heart, and forsake his faith.
One of the hardest hits to handle is when a family member or friend betrays us. This happened with David when his son Absalom turned against him along with his good friend Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15-18). This was also a prophecy of how Judas would betray Jesus (John 13:18).
David gave himself to prayer; that God would grant him victory over the enemy…and He did. God will do the same for us.
Proverbs 22:5 (NKJV) “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.”
Can you visualize the thorns bleeding a person’s body? Snares trapping their souls? Such is the picture, the path of perversity.
The NLT says, “The deceitful walk a thorny, treacherous road…”
So, the counsel here given to avoid that treacherous road is to guard your soul. Protect yourself from anything harmful.
That’s why prayer is so important; Jesus told us to watch and pray. This is one of the ways we keep our guard up, just like a boxer, if he’s in the ring and fighting to win, he always has his guard up.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV) “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This is a monumental message in the Bible, so that our kids would stay the course. When our children are young they’re more compliant, but when they get older and grow up, their faith is tested…and sad to say – many fall away.
So, they need to be trained appropriately.
The NLT says, “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”
Without a doubt the training parents are called to do does consist in teaching our children God’s word, revelation, interpretation, and application. But the Hebrew word translated training, means a lot more than just teaching. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word is found only three other times in the Bible and in all the other texts it speaks of dedication.
In that same sense we are to dedicate our children to the Lord. I can’t help but think of Hannah who dedicated Samuel. We read in:
1 Samuel 1:11 (NKJV) “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”
Teaching, Dedicating, Transferring ownership, Training. We read in:
Ephesians 6:4 (NKJV) “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the TRAINING and admonition of the Lord.”
The Greek word used by Paul is also translated “instruction” and “chastening” – it speaks of the entire outlook and life of raising children. (hands on)
Webster’s definition was helpful to me, “To form by instruction, discipline, or drill. To teach as to make fit, qualified or proficient. To direct the growth of a plant, usually bending, pruning, and tying.” Wouldn’t it be cool to bend, prune, and tie our children up?
Something I found interesting – the Talmud, which is a collection of Jewish writings and commentary, said this word “child” would be applicable to someone up to 24 years of age.
Parenting is the heaviest of all responsibilities! John Locke said, “Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountains.” Ouch – may that not be true of us!
NET Notes, “The expected consequence of such training is that it will last throughout life. The sages were confident of the character-forming quality of their training. However, proverbs are not universal truths. One can anticipate positive results from careful child-training—but there may be an occasional exception.”
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.