Day 283: The weapon of Truth

Job 18-19; Ephesians 6:10-24

Yesterday’s reading in Job marked the beginning of another round of “speeches” from Job’s “friends.” Eliphaz spoke in Job 15, and it’s Bildad’s turn in Job 18. Both men continue their assault on Job – accusing him of being wicked, vile and corrupt (Job 15:16; 18:5).

Job laments in Job 19:13-20 that he is utterly alone – that everyone has abandoned him. And Job still struggles with the false notion that God has rejected him in anger (Job 19:11)…

BUT.

There are hints of hope in Job’s laments. The first we find in Job 16:19-21, “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.” This hint of hope is stronger in Job 19…

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me (Job 19:27)!

Oh, this is the grace of God!! That Job could lift his eyes and find a glimmer of hope – a truth to sustain him. The Lord has upheld Job (Psalm 37:24). He has given him hope. And because Job continues to find his only hope in the Lord, Satan has been defeated!!

Job didn’t know that his true adversary was Satan!

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Ephesians 6 instructs us how to stand against Satan’s schemes. We are to put on “the whole armor of God.” Everything in this armor is held together by the “belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14).

Truth was Job’s defense against Satan’s attack and it is our defense as well. We are to remember God’s truth… that He loves us and is Sovereign and Good. The righteousness we receive from Christ shields our hearts (6:14). Our faith in God’s truth is what extinguishes Satan’s attacks (6:16). And our salvation protects our minds from believing a false gospel (6:17). Our only offensive weapon against Satan is God’s word (6:17), which is…TRUTH. Satan is the father of lies. Truth is both our protection and weapon against him.

I pray God’s truth becomes as precious to me as my very life. So that I might say with Moses, “They are just not idle words for you – they are your life!” (Deut. 32:47).

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Day 282: Mutual submission

Job 15-17; Ephesians 5:1-6:9

Be controlled by the Spirit. This is the heart of Ephesians 5.

Years ago, as a recent college graduate, I attended a small church that was filled with families. In fact, I was the only single person in the church (other than a few widows). The pastor had a passion for building up families and encouraging marriages. The years I spent under this wise pastor’s teaching has greatly benefitted my marriage!

I still remember him preaching on this passage in Ephesians 5. Surprisingly, he didn’t focus as heavily on the verses that deal directly with marriage (5:22-33), but rather emphasized Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with the Spirit.” And then he gave the line that I have written down in my old bible, “I’ll tell you where it’s hard to walk in the Spirit…in Marriage!”

There is much controversy about the command for wives to “submit” to their husbands (5:22). Listen. God designed marriage to model the trinity. There is mutual submission within the trinity as each member has equal value but diverse function. Seriously…do we expect marriages to thrive if both halves are given the same function? That’s just silly. Marriage is a team effort, and typically that means each member has a unique role to fill.

For husbands, they are to love their wives (5:25). Now wives are supposed to love their husbands too, but what husbands cherish more than love is respect. So how fitting that wives are commanded to respect their husbands (5:33)! If both parties fulfill their roles well, as God designed, then submission becomes a non-issue – ESPECIALLY since the command for wives to submit to their husbands is given in the context of mutual submission

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:19-21).

The concept of submission extends beyond marriage and is expected in other relationships as well. Paul addresses parent/child relationships (6:1-4) and “master/bondservant” (or more modernly speaking), employee/employer relationships (6:5-9).

Why is submission such a big deal? We submit out of reverence for Christ (5:21)! Afterall, he is the model of submission! There is no shame in submission – especially when it is emulating the life of our Savior!

Day 281: Comfort in the church

Job 13-14; Ephesians 4

In Ephesians 3, Paul revealed a “mystery” (3:4-6). This mystery is the church where Jews and Gentiles can co-exist in peace.

In Ephesians 4, Paul expands upon this concept of “church” and gives all sorts of practical ways to improve church life…

  • Be humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love (4:2),
  • Keep the unity of peace (4:3),
  • Exercise spiritual gifts for the building up of the body (4:11-12),
  • Put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor (4:25),
  • In your anger, do not sin (4:26), and
  • Earn an honest wage so that you might have something to share with those in need (4:28).

And finally,

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).

So what do we do when we encounter the depth of suffering that Job experienced in our own churches? Job is in utter despair because not only has he lost everyone and everything dear to him (apart from his wife)… he also thinks he has lost God’s favor. He doesn’t understand why God would strike him with such hardship, so he assumes that God has turned on him. The assumed loss of God’s favor is so devastating to Job that he longs for death – but fears the lack of renewal and the loneliness of death without God (Job 14:12; 18-22).

We have the privilege of knowing why Job is suffering. We hear the heavenly conversation between God and Satan where God repeats twice, “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?” (Job 1:8; 2:3). We know that Job is suffering to prove to Satan that one can love God even when all the blessings are removed (Job 1:9-11). Job’s suffering has a higher purpose that he cannot see.

And even though we can’t know for sure why people within our churches suffer – or why we, ourselves, suffer, we can apply the principles of Ephesians 4 to these relationships. We can be gentle and bear with one another in love. We can speak truthfully and serve the church in ways that builds it up, instead of tearing it down. We can use our words in ways that build each other up according to their needs that it may be a benefit and not a curse.

I pray that no one in our churches has to endure the hardships of Job… suffering, alone, without a friend to offer the truths of the gospel. May we be a friend to the suffering. May we comfort the “Jobs” in our midst.

Day 280: The God of all Comfort

Job 11-12; Ephesians 2-3

In many ways, the book of Job teaches us how to comfort those who are experiencing great suffering, specifically by NOT following the example of Job’s friends!

We read Zophar’s, “comfort” in Job 11, and it is filled with rude accusations that Job is foolish to claim he is blameless, and that if Job would just repent, his life would be all hunky-dory again. Humph.

On so many levels, Job’s friends say the most horrible things. They are judgmental of Job and presumptuous of God.

We don’t have the power of God to judge a man’s heart! We have no idea if the suffering is because of sin or not. And moreover, our sins have been forgiven!! Listen to what Frankie Bennett writes in her bible study on Job…

God may prune me (John 15:1-5), discipline me as His child (Hebrews 12:7-11), test me (Job 1-2), or have any number of other purposes for my trials, but I need never again wonder if my sufferings are His retribution for old sins or His condemnation of my failure to achieve perfection (Job, Lessons in Comfort, Frances Bennett, CEP, 2009, pg 46). 

This is the gospel! That all of our sins have been forgiven! That Christ took the punishment we deserved and God’s wrath has been satisfied. It is finished. No more punishment. We are accepted!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is where comfort is found…in the grace of God. God’s comfort is deep and profound. It makes it way deep into our hearts and assures us that we are loved and accepted. In fact, his love is so vast that we need the Spirit’s help to understand it!! I’ve prayed Paul’s prayer at the end of Ephesians 3 so many times… for myself and for others who need the strength of God’s comfort…

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21).

Now that’s comfort! The kind of comfort that seeps into your bones and quenches your thirsty soul. That’s the power of truth, offered graciously in love.

Day 279: The value of Truth

Job 8-10; Ephesians 1

Job needed Ephesians 1. Seriously.. he desperately needed the truth found in Ephesians 1.

For Job misinterpreted his sufferings and chose to believe that God was angry with him. Job feared that God’s anger would cause him more and more pain…

And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion
and again work wonders against me.
You renew your witnesses against me
and increase your vexation toward me;
you bring fresh troops against me (Job 10:16-17).

Job’s friends were no help. In fact, they should be lifted up as an example of what not to do when someone you know is suffering. Today, in Job 8, Bildad theorized that Job’s children were destroyed because of their sin (8:4), and that God had rejected Job because he was not blameless (8:20). Encouraging, eh? But even more damaging, Bildad’s words were just not true!

What Job needs is truth. Healing, refreshing words of truth to pour over the bitterness of his heart. He needs the truths found in Ephesians 1….

That before the creation of the world, God chose us to be adopted as his children. And because of His great Love for us, we have been redeemed and forgiven.

Job longs for an arbitrator to stand between him and God (Job 9:32-33). He needs to know that Christ is our mediator! That God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross… that his wrath has been satisfied – that we are not to fear His anger.

Job needs…

the Spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of God…He needs to have the eyes of his heart enlightened, that he may know what is the hope to which God has called him, what are the riches of the glorious inheritance in the saints (adapted from Ephesians 1:17-18).

How thankful I am to have God’s word to guide me when trials strike! God will reveal Himself to Job in time, but for now, Job’s thoughts about God’s purposes and plans are distorted. Consequently, he is left hopeless, despairing for his life. He needs truth. He needs Christ!