Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: October 2018 (Page 1 of 4)

So – You Think You’ve Got The Answers?

October 16 – Today’s Readings – Job 13-15 and Psalms 106

Job’s “friends” are persistent in trying to find a “quick fix” to his problems and to restate their opinion of God’s character and how things work. “The solution to Job’s problems must be simple”, they thought. “Job must be lacking something – or have too much of something – sin in his heart – or lack of faith – or broken relationships – or not enough knowledge – SOMETHING is wrong with Job or this would not be happening to him.”

In Chapter 13:4 Job fires back at his comforters; “You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!” We all know what a physician is but do we understand that we all can be “physicians” to each other? Our words – our prayers – our attitudes – our touch – our faith – the look in our eyes – the tone of voice we use – whether we are accusing our friends or comforting them – all these things bring a physician’s touch to people who are in trouble. All of these things speak of loving our neighbor or judging our neighbor. Would Job’s sufferings have been easier if his friends had been sensitive to his real needs? Not physically of course but emotionally and spiritually – yes! One of the greatest secrets to health is how a person handles things spiritually and emotionally. The friends may not have known it but the Devil himself used them to bring Job down to the lowest emotional place he could be. If a person feels rejected by God and all those he cares about, what is there left to live for? Job’s suicidal thoughts ought not to surprise us – he was in shock, in depression, in grief, in anger, without any evident support from God, without his wife, rejected by friends and resigned to the fact he would die very soon. At this point a person needs comfort so that even through his tears he knows someone cares.

There are others in Scripture who arrived at the door of death, yet came out shining like gems. Think of Joseph for a moment (Genesis chapters 30-50) Here was a man who learned what it was like to suffer and be in torment – yet without sin. The Bible says he was just 17 when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and was a full forty years old when he was promoted out of prison to be the governor of Egypt. (Genesis 37:2 & 41:46) He spent 23 hard and painful years, suffering for no fault of his own. Was God absent? Did He not care? Was He judging Joseph for some sin? Was He playing games with Joseph’s life? The answer to all these questions is “no” of course and Joseph managed to grow in grace, wisdom, and spiritual gifting as he spent his years slowly dying in the dungeon and in slavery. He also managed to not hold bitterness and anger in his heart, so that he was finally able to clearly represent God to his family. – “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

Trials will come – and so will difficulties. In the process we must always remember that God is for us and is with us. Herein lies our hope.

Questions:

1. Have you ever felt misunderstood and not “comforted” in a very difficult situation? Tell about it and how you would have handled it differently.
2. Give an example of a person who suffered great difficulty as a direct result of sin or moral failing.

Desperate

October 15 – Today’s Readings – Job 10-12 and Psalms 105

Chapter 10 of the book of Job is most interesting because Job is speaking to God in desperateness of soul and body. He questions God in a fairly confrontive manner! We may even call this “being angry” with God.The reason for this is that Job can see no sense or rationale for what is happening to him. It’s almost as if God is punishing him for no good reason. Have you ever been with a hurting or grieving person who speaks in this manner? My guess is that you have. Perhaps you also have spoken to the Lord in this way when you were hurting and confused. Is it “right” to speak to God in such a way? No. We can never say that accusing God or questioning God’s character is right – BUT – God does understand us and sees deep into our beleaguered hearts. He is not afraid of our questions nor our emotions. Neither is He offended with our natural, human response to disastrous situations. Even our Lord Jesus, who was without any sin, cried out in anguish; “My God my God – Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) This was not a sin; it was a cry of pain from the human heart of Christ. Our hearts too may be overwhelmed at times and we too may cry out to God in a manner that is confusing to the hearer. Here’s a thought – should you come upon a distressed soul, be careful not to “judge” too hastily lest you find yourself in the same position and have others judge you. Remember, God’s heart is with the troubled soul. His purpose is to walk through troubled times with us and to comfort us. Our words and actions towards others should mimic God’s.

Over in the book of Acts, there are two other men who found themselves in an unfair and desperate situation – “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:22-25)

I love these guys! Here they were in a horrible situation – beaten – pounded on – shackled – shamed – and their response was to worship. They not only began to sing through their parched lips and aching, bruised ribs – they sang loud enough so that all the rest of the inmates began to listen carefully to the praise and worship songs. Remember that this was all happening at midnight in the middle of this diseased and rat infested prison – after a very bad day at the office! Here then is the New Testament believer’s response to anguish of soul – worship. We acknowledge that Jesus is with us not against us – and that He is Lord of all – then we come to Him with worshipping hearts, knowing that He is the only real solution to all of our problems.

Questions:

1. Tell of another Scriptural instance where a person’s response to adversity was worship.
2. Tell of a situation where you too questioned the Lord in anguish of heart.

Is Sickness A Cause and Effect Thing?

October 14 – Today’s Readings – Job 7-9 and Psalms 104

Today we must deal with the “cause and effect” doctrine propagated by some when it comes to dealing with sickness or tragedy in our lives.

In these verses Job has been asking himself [and God] whether it was sin that caused his calamity – ”If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?” (Job 7:20) This is a most natural response for Job. Who in their right minds would not seek a simple answer to tragedy or sickness in their lives – “God, have I done something to bring this on myself? – Is there any sin or rebellion or hardness of heart that has brought this sickness or hardship upon me?”

Job received only an answer of silence – until his “friends” arrived. They thought they had God all figured out – and they thought they had all Job’s “troubles” figured out too. They had placed God in a convenient little theological box.

Chapter 8:4 reads, “When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” Yet there is NO INDICATION that Job’s children had been living sinful lives at all! On the contrary, it seems that God went to great pains in telling us that all was well with Job and his family!

So – first of all – Job’s friends told him that his children must have sinned to end up dead. But get this – the attack on Job’s own character also intensified – “If you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.” (Job 7:6)

We now come to the reason “why” these men had such issue with Job’s condition – It was because of what they believed about God. “While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.” (Job 7:12-13) – “Surely God does not reject a blameless man”… “or strengthen the hands of evildoers.” (Job 7:12 & 8:20)

What is actually being confessed here? “Job! You must have some kind of SIN or LACK OF FAITH in your life – because – look at you! You used to be blessed by all earthly standards and now you don’t seem to have any earthly blessings at all!”

Hold on boys! – What about all the wonderful Godly people who live their whole lives in persecution or great poverty? Does this mean they are less “Godly” or have less faith than we who are materially blessed? What about those fantastic believers who suffer through the devastation of natural disaster or physical problems? Is God punishing them? Hardly. This is why I find great comfort from the Book of Job. It gives perspective to the suffering and pain all around us – in believers’ lives. Why did Job’s friends do more harm than good? – It was because their thinking was wrong! —- More to follow tomorrow.

Questions:

1. Does the Book of Job in any way contradict the teachings of Jesus or the Apostles?
2. Does the Book of Job contradict some of the prevalent teaching in the Christian world?
3. In which ways?

Personal, Undeserved, Suffering.

October 13 – Today’s Readings – Job 4-6 and Psalms 103

The theme of personal, undeserved suffering is quite prevalent in the Book of Job. This in turn means that there are several “life lessons” to be learned from these passages.The first of these is found in Chapter 4:2b where Eliphaz the Temanite blurts out, “But who can keep from speaking”? We tend to have lots of trouble keeping our mouths shut when people are in anguish. We imagine that suffering friends want to hear our “wisdom” or that we might have a solution to their agony. We have a notion that our words will relieve their pain or somehow change the situation. We falsely believe that our superior analysis will make our friends re-examine the problem and lead them to immediate results. There are indeed occasions when our words may set people free but when a brother is hurting and is sitting on an ash-heap, scrapping his boils with broken pottery, the very best thing we can do is to quietly sit with him without saying a word. Sometimes the only questions to be asked are, “Can I do anything for you?” or “Can I pray for you?” This is not a time for sermonizing – this is not a time for giving the suffering soul “counsel” unless they specifically ask for it! Don’t begin to second-guess why your friend is suffering – just “be there” for them and pray compassionately for them. We have much to learn about “comforting” people when they are in distress but the first thing we must be trained in is to not say too much! The next time you have opportunity to visit in hospital, try praying before you get there and use the wisdom of the Holy Spirit – the real “comforter” – to help you with your words. This may mean that you refrain from preaching about how all their troubles would go away if they would only listen to your “wisdom”.

Unfortunately, Eliphaz continued to speak – and he ended up causing pain; “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? ‘Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” (Job 4:6-7) What is Eliphaz really saying here? – “You obviously have a problem with guilt Job, because God does not allow this kind of stuff to happen to an innocent man.” We will speak more on this subject as we read further in the book of Job, but permit me to say this one thing – If we, without divine knowledge, conclude that a brother’s current tragic situation is a direct result of their guilt, sin or lack of faith then we are judging things that only God has the authority to judge. Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” James the half brother of Jesus put it this way, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12) Lets learn more about grace and compassion when dealing with situations that are difficult to understand. It would have been far more helpful if Eliphaz had brought Job a glass of cold water, instead of trying to counsel him, heaping fire on his head.

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where someone was “condemned” as a sinner when they had done nothing wrong.
2. Give an example from your own life or a friend’s life where someone got all “preachy” when all that was really needed was compassion. [Please don’t use real names!!]

Difficult To Understand

October 12 – Today’s Readings – Job 1-3 and Psalms 102

First of all, let me say that there are things that happen in the heavenly realms and in the sovereign knowledge of God that we simply won’t understand till we stand in His presence in eternity. The account of Job’s great lose – his family – his workers – his health and his possessions – all these things fall into this category of the unknown. There is an abundance of other Scripture that specifically outlines God’s desire to bless us beyond all natural reason. Jesus said; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”(John 10:10) Our heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children – so what is it about this Book of Job? I must tell you that I personally have found the greatest comfort in this book because when “bad” things happen to us or those around us – things that seem completely outside the “norm” in God we realize that Job had it far worse than us! I have learned to not be asking God the “WHY” question all the time. The moment we begin to ask this question it may be that our faith in God’s character and integrity is wavering.

What we know for sure is that we live in a sin-sick world and that we combat a very real enemy who still rules in the kingdom of this world. Get mad at him! Get angry at the kingdom of darkness! Get angry enough to pray! Get angry enough to rescue people from the enemy’s clutches! NEVER be angry with Our Heavenly Father who loves you so much that He provides for you “the hope of all the ages”. Yes, things happen to us as children of God that we will never understand on Earth but “let not your hearts be troubled”. You have a wonderful Savior and friend who will walk with you through every valley.

As we read this book then, it is important we understand that there was nothing the matter with Job spiritually. “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) His life was ripped apart through no fault of his own and his response was definite and immediate; “Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:20-22) Here was a man in shock and horrible grief, yet he knew where to run – straight into the arms of God. Even in his confusion there was a confidence that God was sovereign and ruled over all. He was at death’s door and his wife was past breaking point (who wouldn’t be) – She foolishly blurted out, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) His response was unbelievable considering all he had suffered – “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:10) I cannot pretend to understand all of Job’s “Theology” – he certainly lacked some New Testament perspective, being one of the most ancient characters referred to in Scripture – but I can certainly admire his steadfast faith – even while living a catastrophe.

Questions:

1. Give another account from Scripture where things happened that seemed totally “unfair”.
2. Tell of an experience where you asked God “why” but regretted it.

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