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Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:22 (NIV)

Job was perhaps the most spiritual man on earth during his time. There is no other place in the Bible where God seems to give a man such a stunning recommendation as he does Job. Job is known for his godliness, his patience and his lack of good friends.

In the midst of Job’s trials, Eliphaz steps in and pleads with Job to see the light. His wealth was gone. His family was gone. His health left him as well and he ended up sitting in a pile of ashes scraping boils with a broken dinner plate. To top it off, his wife had lost heart and wished he’d just die so he’d be out of his suffering. Talk about a downer!

When things go dreadfully wrong in our lives there always seem to be a generous supply of people willing to step in and tell us exactly why we are in that predicament and offer solutions to getting out.

Eliphaz was just the man for the task. He pleads with Job to come to his senses. “All this can be over if you will just turn your life over to God! Listen to him. Return to him. Quit being so evil and greedy and he’ll restore you!” (My paraphrase)

Maybe you have an Eliphaz in your life. Someone who scrutinizes every move you make and are ready in a heartbeat to point out why your way is wrong and their way is best. Eliphaz’s seem to have experienced every illness, every legal situation and every relational issue known to man. Their profound experience allows them the opportunity to share with the world the way to happiness.

Only one problem with Eliphaz. He didn’t have a clue as to why Job was suffering. Job didn’t either. The only one that did was God and he wasn’t talking. Give him credit though. Eliphaz was following a misconception that began in the Garden of Eden and will continue until the end of time. It’s the notion that God only speaks to us in certain ways and at certain times.

Eliphaz (and all his ancestors to this day) would have done well to practice what he preached to Job. His words in Job 22:22 are words each of us needs to follow. Rather than listening to all the ‘Eliphaz’s’ in the world, we need to learn to listen to God himself.

Does God use people to speak his word? Certainly, but not always. He would much rather speak directly to us individually through prayer and reading his word than to speak through a translator.

Calamity doesn’t always come as result of sin. Disaster isn’t always Gods way of punishing us. Sometimes God allows the bad things in our lives to bring us closer to him, but not always. The next time an ‘Eliphaz’ steps forward with all the answers to your problems, listen respectfully and then go to the Father and see if what Eliphaz says matches up with your Heavenly Father.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the Eliphaz’s in my life for they teach me patience. Give me wisdom to follow you even when they try to convince me their way is best. Amen.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:39-40 (NLT)

Trust: To place confidence in and rely on the truthfulness of something or someone.

Trust has to earned, usually over the passage of time. The enemy wants you to believe that during those times when God is silent it’s because he is either unable to provide the answers you need or is able but simply doesn’t care. God’s silence leaves us feeling abandoned and questioning why? Why, when he promises to be with us always, does he leave us when we need him the most? Why, when we seek his power to handle life’s most difficult problems does he seem distant or non-existent?

In a word, the lie the enemy wants us to believe is that God’s silence indicates Apathy. The lie comes to us in different ways. Religion tells us that God leaves us because we have sinned. As sinners before an angry God he refuses to listen to us. In order to offer us some relief religion gives us a list of rule and regulations, dos and don’ts that will hopefully appease him.

The humanist version of the lie is that IF there is a God he is only available to those who help themselves. This version of the lie puts the onus of our success emotionally, physically and spiritually on us. We fail to achieve. We try harder and fail more miserably. Once again the negative spiral continues. The deeper it goes the more desperate we feel.

The version of the God is apathetic lie given to us by society is that we are crazy for even seeking him. He’s dead after all. The Bible is nothing but a meaningless set of stories and outdated writings. Society tells us that science and education are the answer, not a distant concept of some supreme being.

The second aspect of trust is that it is earned over a period of time. Take a look a few other people who trusted God when he seemed absent, distant or apathetic.

  • Noah built the ark and warned a people that had never seen rain that it would soon rain and a flood would come. Finally, God’s promised judgment took place, but only after Noah and his family suffered verbal abuse for their actions.
  • Abraham was promised a son and yet that son didn’t come until he was long after child-bearing age. When the son finally came, God called on him to execute this ‘son of promise’.
  • Joseph waited for God’s promise to deliver the Israelites fromEgypt. He never got to see the fulfillment of God’s promise, yet he never lost hope.
  • David was anointed king but was subjected to humiliation, verbal and physical attack and attempted murder for years until he was finally able to ascend the throne.
  • Job lost his family, his money and his health. He was maligned by alleged friends and his wife. Yet even though God eventually restored him to health and gave him more wealth than he had before, no explanation was given for the struggles he endured.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us all that many have gone through life enduring trials that seem insurmountable. They lived holy lives of faith and trust yet never saw God’s promises fulfilled in their life times. Our human nature leads us to think that God’s promise of blessing will happen in our lifetime, but the real blessing comes after we leave this earthly shell we call a body.

The Truth Statement in the battle for trust is: Trust in God allows us to live at peace in present difficulties with hope built on the future.

PRAYER: Father God, during the times of darkness and struggle I sometimes lose sight of the fact that you never promised my life here would be easy. During the times you seem distant keep me from listening to the lies of the enemy. Empower me with your Spirit to trust you regardless of earthly struggle. Amen.

[From the series: “Lies that Keep Us from Loving Ourselves”

You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.  Job 42:3 (NLT)

The story of Job has always been one full of questions. One is often left with the question of ‘Why?’ Why would God allow Satan to have such free reign over so devout man of God? Why would God allow someone as righteous as Job to go through the emotional pain of losing his family, or the physical pain of illness, or complete financial loss? Job’s so-called friends are of no help. They do nothing to encourage him other than regurgitating the answers religion teaches us. If things are going will you are living right. If things are going poorly it must be due to your disobedience and sin. If on the other hand you want to prosper you must obey. 

To Job’s credit he doesn’t buy into the lines of established religious thought. To the very end he maintains his innocence. He’s done all the right things. He’s been a man of integrity that no one other than Christ himself has emulated. We seek recommendations from people to show our expertise. Job’s recommendation came from God himself. Nowhere in all the earth is there a man like Job. Can’t argue with those credentials.

If there was one ‘fault’ in Job’s reasoning it was his questioning of God’s actions. You can’t blame the man. He was in deep physical pain. He was being falsely accused. He’d lost his family. Can you imagine being in so much physical pain you can’t even mourn the passing of all your children? Add to that the rejection of your wife and your friends? Job can. And he confronts the God of heaven about it.

God finally shows himself to God. While God is always the underlying theme of Scripture, when he shows himself things happen. Abraham hid his face. Moses shielded his eyes. Isaiah fell to his knees. It was no different for Job. When God showed up all of Job’s suffering and pain seemed to disappear. God became his focus. When God becomes the focus in the midst of trial everything changes!

We don’t always understand why God allows things to happen as he does. During those times we need to rely on his heart. We may not always understand God’s actions but we can always trust him to do what needs to be done. Rely on his promises. Remember that He loves you. In reality God doesn’t owe you anything. Why he does what he does isn’t any of your business and, as Job came to realize, and you couldn’t understand it anyway!

Throughout history God’s actions have been questioned, but in the end his way has always proven to be the best way.

PRAYER: Father God I confess that I don’t always understand your ways. There are times I’m afraid. Times I worry. Times I get angry at you or at the things happening around me. Life doesn’t seem fair sometimes. I ask that you would empower me by your Spirit to trust you in the darkest times of my life. Help me to trust even when I don’t understand. In Jesus name, Amen.

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your care you watched over my life. Job 10:12

Ever said to yourself, “I wish God would just send me an email or text message and tell me what to do!”?

Some of our texts would go something like this: “So, how can I tell my mom and dad I’m [pregnant; gay; dropping out of school]” or “Where should I apply for a job?” or “What is going to happen with this relationship? Should I pursue it, or leave it alone?” or “I’m going to the doctor in an hour, can you heal me before I go? If not, what’s the report going to say about my cancer?” or “The bank just called, God. The house is being foreclosed on. Can you tell me what to do next?”

The list goes on and on of the questions that come across our minds. Questions about how we should act/react, searching for guidance, advice, direction, and information on how to trust God more, or make him more a part of your life. The God we believe in is not only loving, gracious and merciful, he’s mysterious. Sometimes our pursuit of him and of the best way to travel this journey we call life seems to find one detour and/or dead end after another.

Look at the life of Job. A man steeped in wisdom and understanding. A worshipper of the true God. A man of great wealth and generosity to the community and his family. Yet in spite of all the good things he had going for him, financial, physical and relational attack landed him in a pile of ashes and scraping open sores with a broken bowl. Even Job’s so-called friends could offer no comfort or no answers.

Yet in the midst of his agony Job gives this stirring testimony of God’s presence and love in his life. He says [my paraphrase] “I wish you’d talk to me and tell me why all this stuff is happening to me. I’ve lost my kids, I’ve lost my wealth, my wife has lost faith in you and me, and these great friends of mine keep telling me to suck it up because if I hadn’t sinned this wouldn’t be happening. I know better God. I’ve seen in my walk with you that you are a great and compassionate God who has watched over me all my life.”

That’s real faith! Faith says that even though God seems a million miles away from me and my situation, I know I can trust Him to see me through. You see, no one who has ever sought grace and forgiveness has ever been denied. No one who has called out to Jesus in true repentance and faith has been ignored.

Remember Lazarus who lay on his death bed, looking down the street for his friend Jesus to come. He knew healing was in reach but it never came…until after he died. Think of the woman caught in adultery. Guilty? Yes. Ready to be stoned? You bet. But one by one her accusers left because of Jesus. Think of the thief on the cross. Moments from death and eternity in hell, yet in his last gasp he calls on Jesus and is ushered into eternal life with the Messiah.

Need a message from God? Look to his son Jesus for compassion and strength. Remind yourself of the great promises he gave you in his love letter we call the Bible. In your deepest need don’t forget that he is with you and waits to deliver you from whatever is keeping you from seeing his face.

PRAYER: Father God. Even though I believe in you and your Son Jesus, I confess that I often wonder where you are in the struggles of my life. Forgive me for the doubt. Remind me of the great promises you’ve given. Empower me to live in the grace only you can give. In Jesus name, Amen.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8

When I was in Bible College I worked in a small woodworking factory. Our boss was openly agnostic at best and most days an atheist. However, one fall day we needed a new employee. He asked me if I knew anyone at the college that was looking for work. It just so happened that I’d struck up a friendship with a new student looking for work. I told my boss I did and I’d send him in for an application and interview.

In the course of our conversation my agnostic boss shared that there wouldn’t be much of a need for an application or interview. If he went to the college I went to he would probably get hired. In this small plant of perhaps 30 employees, over half of them were students or one time students at the college I attended. My boss shared with me that even though he didn’t buy all this ‘Jesus stuff’ he liked to have us working there because he knew we were hard workers and he could trust us.

During my time there my boss suffered a horrible tragedy. His five year old son died of an aggressive, fast acting form of meningitis. We as Christ-followers were able to gather around him during one of the most troubling times of his life. I’m not sure if Jim (not his real name) ever accepted Jesus as savior, I know that my friends and I had a ministry at that small shop.

Each of us is called to ministry. That ministry may take us to Walmart as a greeter or McDonalds as a burger-flipper or a ditch digger. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we carry with us an opportunity to show Jesus in the way we work, the way we react and interact with our co-workers or customers and what we do while we are on the job.

People will be far more likely to be interested in our Jesus when we show them our best effort at work. Bosses and co-workers alike are far less interested in our denominational affiliation or doctrinal stand than they are how we show them Jesus by our work ethic.

From this day forward don’t think of your job as just a job, think if it as an opportunity for ministry. Share Jesus by working hard, being considerate of others, and putting forth your best effort.  People may not like you or agree with you on many things, but they can’t argue a job well done with a joyful attitude.

PRAYER: Father God, help me to see my job as an opportunity for ministry. Empower me with your spirit to attack each day with the mind of Christ so that even if people don’t agree with my doctrine or my lifestyle they will see Jesus in me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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