The Hope of Job

Recently my daily reading which I follow throughout the year has led me to that great Old Testament book of Job. Each time I read through this account of one man’s dealing with the great God we serve I am reminded of how great He is and how desperately we need Him. Unfortunately many have seen the book of Job as one of distress and sadness. While it is absolutely true that a number of tragic events happen in the life of Job in a very short amount of time, the story is not about Job or his struggles. Like every other portion of Scripture, the record of Job is given to us that we may know more of the Lord and the hope we have in Him.

No other person throughout the Old Testament, or the entire Bible for that matter, needed a place and person of hope more than Job. Unexpectedly his possessions and family were taken from him, his wife would stand in opposition to him, and his friends were of no help in his hour of greatest need. Here we find a warning for each one of us; surely we must be cautious of where we place our confidence. Experience has shown to many of us through the years that during the season of life you needed them most it seems that those you trust in simply are not there or are of no real help. Thankfully Job shows us that we do not have to look at those of this world to be our true source of hope. In spite of all his physical circumstances, or possibly because of them, Job lived with an unchanging, unfailing hope. Sure he asked hard questions at hard times, but his hope stood the test and is still available today.

In Job 9 we find Job speaking of his major problem. The great issue is not just the sad state of man but rather the grand existence of the God he must answer too. He is the One who speaks things into being and upholds all things by His power. He is the One all men must stand before and give an account of their lives. He is the One we must ask with Job, “But how can a man be in the right before God?” (9:2b). It is in chapter 9 that we see Job cry out “There is no umpire between us, Who may lay his hand upon us both.” (9:33). Later on we find Job imploring the Lord to, “Lay down, now, a pledge for me with Yourself; Who is there that will be my guarantor?” (17:3). This is the call of all men in that desperate moment. How can I stand before a holy, powerful God on my own? Who will stand between us as my intercessor? What hope can I have as a promise within me that all will be ok?

Thankfully the book of Job does not end here. Many of us know the glorious ending of Job’s life as well as we know the tragedy of the early days. But before we can get to the outpouring of God’s favor and blessings upon Job we must see the great hope of Job. Job 19: 25-26 states, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God”. Here is the great hope of Job and the hope offered to all. Job knew for a fact that there was a Redeemer, that He was alive, that He would take His victorious stand upon the earth someday soon, and though he may die before this happens he too would be there to see God in the flesh. It is the hope of a living Redeemer and a promised resurrection. The hope that this is not all there is to life. Rather this temporary life may come to an end even in suffering, but the life to come is just as real and full of promise. The promise that He who is gloriously unapproachable will welcome you into His loving presence because of the Redeemer of men.

Where is your hope today? Is it in possessions or people? Or is it, like Job, in the soon coming Redeemer? My prayer is that today your life will be full of hope, even in the most difficult of days. The great hope of Job.



The Look of Love

Mark 10:21 states, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'”

How marvelous is the love of Christ displayed for those around Him! Many of us are all too familiar with this account of the “rich young ruler” and his questioning of Jesus concerning the way to eternal life. Still may we look at these verses with fresh wonder and fresh excitement at the truths they contain. Even this week I have had the great joy of seeing these again.

Truly this young man had done all in his power to live an acceptable, and even exemplary life before men. Jesus does not discount the man’s assertion that he had lived blameless among men up to this time. From all appearances he is a man who has it all together. Yet, Christ sees in him the true state of his heart, much like He does with each of us.

Though we may appear to have it all together and be doing everything the right way still Christ sees as no man can see and He always sees us as we truly are, not as we appear to be. With the young man before Him in Mark 10 we know that Christ reveals his covetousness and love for money. A love for money that was greater than his love for God and desire to walk obediently before Him. We see this because Jesus points it out for us and makes it clear to all that were around and all that would read the account throughout the ages. But more than the truth that is revealed, I want to call your attention to the way it is revealed.

Verse 21 says, “Jesus felt a love for him…” Everything that follows this statement is a result of this statement. Because Jesus loved him…He said. This love is the agape, active love of God for His people. Since Jesus was actively loving this man He made hard request of him and expected much from him. Do we understand that today? This is exactly what every true follower of Christ experiences in their lives.

Our Savior actively loves us, so He often makes request of us that make no sense in the human realm. Jesus often expects from us what no other person would ever expect. He often calls us to obedience that seems radical to all onlookers and even makes us appear fanatical. All because looking at us He feels a love for us.

He does not look at us and feel a love for us then ask us to do nothing. When we do nothing there is never a change in who we are before a holy God. His love for us leads us to make the changes and take the steps we must take in order for us to be pleasing to the Father. Did  you notice that Jesus told the young ruler that when he did this “then he would have treasure in heaven”? His treasure in heaven was not dependent upon good works that would reap great rewards, they were not dependent upon his heritage of faith, they were completely dependent upon his faithful response of obedience to the loving command of Christ. How freeing it is to know that every call to sacrificially live for the sake of the Savior comes to us in complete love and is tied to heavenly treasures.

Jesus looked at him and felt a love for him, then He asked him to change and take steps of obedience. Today Jesus is looking at each of us and feeling a love for us. Because of the love He has for us, He is asking us to change and take great steps of obedience as we follow Him. The only question is will we, like the rich young ruler, see the request of Christ as unfair and unloving, or will we respond obediently and know the greatness of His active love for us?

Striking but Healing

Isaiah 19:22 states, “The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so that they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them.”

I was struck by that verse as I read it this morning in my personal Bible study time. It has never ceased to amaze me how an ever-compassionate God chooses to show Himself through His Word. Each time I read through the prophetic books of the Old Testament I am confronted with two wonderful truths: God is Holy and God is Loving.

The prophets made no reservations about proclaiming the holiness of God and the standard which that sets for man to live by, and ultimately be judged by. In every case man falls desperately short of His holy standard. As a result of this shortcoming, God’s discipline is inevitably known. Yet in the midst of His discipline, the prophetic voice always remind us of His lovingkindness and patience with man.

Such is the case for the verse quoted above. God’s holiness requires that He “strike” all who fall short, but His love uses the striking to bring about times of healing. The verse clearly tells us that “He will respond to them and will heal them”. Exactly what is He responding too? Namely He responds to the pain man feels as he is disciplined for failing to live as he should. The very One who disciplines is the same One who responds to heal the disciplined.

I have seen this over and over again in my life. There have been more times than I would like to admit in which the Lord was forced to “strike” me with His rod of discipline. Each time I have felt the stinging rod of His disproval I have immediately been met with the loving hands of His healing and restoration. The amazing thing is that this is the whole point of the pain. God strikes that I may be healed.

As the verse reminds us, too often we fail to cry out for healing until we feel the pain for ourselves. In His infinite love for us God will strike so that He might heal. He desires to heal us too much to allow us to continue on without the pain of discipline. So rather than holding onto a bitterness for each pain of discipline I have felt over the years, I will rejoice that I have a loving Father who will do whatever He must so that He can give me the healing I desperately need.

Delivered from the Pain of the Ordinary

How often do we all just want to be ordinary? In our desperate attempt to be, or at least look, ordinary we go to great lengths to avoid situations which may cause us to stand out and we desperately run from anything that may cause us to be different.

The real question we must ask is: Is being ordinary really what we want? What is ordinary anyway? Who sets the standard? Who determines the mark of ordinary that so many of us press towards never to reach it?

I believe many of us want to be ordinary simply to avoid pain. Ordinary jobs worked by ordinary people living ordinary lives by ordinary standards is sure to bring peace and comfort. Right? But sadly too many of us know that this is not the case at all. We have been there and done that only to feel emptier than before. We rejoice when we can avoid pain and cry out to be delivered from it if we are ever too close for comfort. I am convinced however that the greatest pain any of us ever experience is the pain that comes from “being ordinary”.

The Word of God tells us that each of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. We have all been made unique and different from one another. Each of us have been subjected to differing life situations and different environments throughout our days of existence. Since no two people will ever be exactly alike, then there can be no ordinary. We are all different in our own way. Besides all this, don’t we all possess something within us telling us that there is something so much more than ordinary.

That is exactly the picture we see all throughout the pages of the Bible. Abram was living an ordinary life in Ur until God called him to an extraordinary journey which led to the birth of a great Nation; Moses was just an ordinary shepherd with an unbelievable past until God spoke to him in the burning bush and commissioned him to an extraordinary task of delivering His people; David was another ordinary shepherd playing his instruments in the field enjoying life until God set him apart to become king; Peter, James, and John were just working ordinary jobs as fishermen until the Lord commanded them to follow Him; and I was just an ordinary person doing the best I could until the Lord called me to Himself and called me His own. Each of these transitions from ordinary to extraordinary led to what many of us would call pain but is it really painful to be walking in obedience to the Lord of all?

See the greatest pain I could ever imagine is to spend my life pursuing ordinary only to find out in eternity that I had been created to be extraordinary. Sadly many of us may do just that simply because we fear discomfort or pain. Today would you allow God to deliver you from the comforts of ordinary so that you could walk in the bliss of extraordinary?