Scripture reading for May 31st: Job 35-37
“I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you.” Job 36:3-4
Have you ever been around a person who thinks he knows everything? For every question, he has an answer and he even has information you did not ask for. Elihu was such a person. He boasted of his great wisdom and but was not much different from the other three friends. He talked down to Job and subtly accused Job of not knowing God, yet he claimed to know God perfectly. (Job 36:4)
Elihu stated that God commanded sinners to repent and that if they listened, they would spend the rest of their days in prosperity. (Job 36:11) This argument had already been hashed around and Job had reminded them that this was not always the case. Sometimes the wicked prosper and nothing seems to touch them here on earth. (Job 21:7-14) We cannot always presume that our life on earth has to be a certain way based on our behavior. God may allow other things to work out His purposes, but they will all be for our good if we love him. (Romans 8:28)
Elihu stated that our sin had no effect on God. (Job 35:6) Sin does have an effect on God. It provokes His anger and all sin is against God first. Without His Law we would not know sin, good or evil. God’s revelation of His Law and the consequences of sin show God’s concern. Job was before the Law was given but God never changes and His character was the same then as now!
Elihu also warned Job not to turn to evil and accused him of preferring evil to affliction. (Job 36:21) When we think that we are perfect in knowledge, we can easily become judgmental and critical of others. Knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up! (1st Corinthians 8:1b)
As I ponder these dissertations by Job’s friends, I am reminded of my own need to be more quiet and listen longer before I speak. (James 1:19-20) No one is perfect in knowledge and understanding but the Lord! He is our helper and guide! In all our ways we must acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths! (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Scripture reading for September 11th: 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10
Paul continued his boasting by talking in the third person about a man who was caught up to heaven. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2nd Corinthians 12:2-4) The false apostles had stories, but Paul had a personal experience that he could only relay as if it happened to someone else. He had a vision or maybe an experience in his body that only God knew how it occurred. This person was caught up to paradise and heard some things that he was not allowed to express or tell.
Paul told them that he refrained from any more boasting so that people would not put him on a different level and cause him to have pride. God also was concerned about Paul’s pride as well! “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10)
Much has been written about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Some say it was a physical ailment related to Paul’s eyesight. Others believe it was the false apostles that continued to attack the church. Paul did seek the Lord about the removal of this thorn and God told him simply to abide in His grace. For Christ’s sake, Paul chose to delight in his weaknesses and trials for the Gospel. He learned that Christ’s power rested on him and worked through him in these trials. We can all learn from this truth!
Scripture reading for September 10th: 2nd Corinthians 11:16-33
Paul continued to write to the Corinthians about the contrast between his ministry and that of the false teachers. He was jealous for them as one who had promised them to Christ. (2nd Corinthians 11:1-3) Paul turned to the use of sarcasm and boasting to try and open their hearts again.
“I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!” (2nd Corinthians 11:16-21) Paul admitted that boasting was not from the Lord. He was using the world’s ways like the fools who had used these methods to enslave the Corinthians. He sarcastically remarked that they put up with fools because ‘they were so wise’! Paul himself never exploited them or took advantage of them.
Paul’s credentials as an apostle were then laid out for them. He was a Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham. He was a servant of Christ who had endured prison, flogging, beatings with rods, stoning, and shipwreck. He had been constantly on the move, avoiding bandits, persecution from other Jews, false brothers, and Gentiles. He went without sleep, was hungry and thirsty, and cold and naked. All this he had endured for the cause of Jesus Christ!
A greater concern than the physical dangers he suffered was his care for all the churches. (2nd Corinthians 11:28-29) Paul hurt with those who were weak and in danger of leaving the faith. He felt a deep burden when one of the brothers or sisters was led into sin by Satan or false teachers. His boasting was not of his great strength, prophesies, preaching and powerful miracles. He was boasting in his weakness and God’s faithfulness to bring him through! Do you boast of your weakness and trials, or of your own accomplishments? May we all be ‘fools for Christ’!