Vary Your Approach. Other teaching methods are valuable for the sake of variety
How important is God to me?
In Psalm 119 we find a most eloquent statement about our need to be committed to God, and our Father’s Laws of Guidance. This is must reading for anyone who has any doubts. Do you want peace? Keep your thoughts on and trust your God. With God we can know perfect peace even within the midst of turmoil.
This testimony exalted the Word of God – the complete and perfect standard of truth, values, reality, and behavior. God’s Word is wholly sufficient for godly living. By grasping its powerful message, God’s children can be pure.
We need sound doctrine. The Spirit of holiness is also the Spirit of truth. Truth and righteousness go together….
Why? Why is sound doctrine necessary for sanctification? For real sanctification to occur in the Christian life at least three absolute changes are necessary. There must be a change in our consciousness. There must be a change in our convictions. There must be a change in our conscience. Consciousness, conviction, and conscience – these three are all vital to our sanctification.
Consciousness involves knowledge. Before we can willfully do what God commands and what pleases Him, we must first understand what it is that God requires. From the law comes a knowledge of sin. Also from the law comes a knowledge of righteousness.
A person could “accidentally” obey the law without doing so consciously. But such an action would have no moral virtue to it. Suppose a man enjoys driving his car at fifty miles an hour in fifty-five-mile-per-hour zones and in fifteen-mile-per-hour zones. When he drives in the fifty-five-mile-per-hour zone, he is within the speed limit. He is obeying the law. But when he goes fifty in a fifteen-mile-per-hour zone, he is a menace to those around him.
Suppose our mythical driver systematically refuses to look at speed limit signs. He averts his gaze from any sign that even appears to mark a speed limit. He keeps himself purposely unconscious of speed limits. At times he “happens” to obey the law, but purely by coincidence. If the man wants to achieve moral virtue as a driver and always drive within the speed limit, he must first become aware, he must become conscious of the law.
But consciousness is not enough. We all have seen people who are quite conscious of the speed limits while they are violating them. We don’t have to look beyond ourselves to discover the culprits. For our behavior to change we must move beyond consciousness to conviction.
Conviction is a matter of depth and intensity. It is one thing to be aware that a certain action is right. It is another to have a conviction about it. It is a lot easier for us to compromise our knowledge than to act against convictions. A conviction is knowledge that is settled. It has a firm hold on us. It goes beyond our brains and penetrates the conscience.
Our conscience acts as a kind of governor upon our behavior. It is the inner voice that either accuses or excuses us. It monitors our behavior by way of approval or disapproval. The problem is that our conscience doesn’t always tell us the truth. We are adept at training it in the direction of self-approval….
For the conscience to function in a godly convictions. To gain godly consciences, our consciousness of what is right and what is wrong must be sharpened. This involves the mind. It is a matter of doctrine.
Book of Job
Job is portrayed as a wealthy man of upright character who loves God. Yet God allows Satan to destroy his flocks, his possessions, his children, and his health. Job refuses to give up on God, even though he does not understand why this is happening to him. We, too, must trust God when we do not understand the difficulties we face.
Job Book Overview
|Purpose:||To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and the meaning of true faith. It addresses the question Why do the righteous suffer?|
|Author:||Unknown, possibly Job. Some have suggested Moses, Solomon, or Elihu.|
|Date Written:||Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approximately 2000-1800 b.c.|
|Setting:||The land of Uz, probably located northeast of Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River|
|Key Verse:||“Then the Lord asked Satan, ‘Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you persuaded me to harm him without cause’” (2:3).|
|Key People:||Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite|
|Special Features:||Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. The book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.|
It’s easy to thank God when he does what we want. Ask Job,
His empire collapsed, his children were killed, and what was a healthy body became a rage of boils. From whence will come any help?
Not from his wife. You can’t blame her for telling Job to curse God. But to curse God and die?
Then come his friends. They mean well, but they comfort poorly. They tell him he must have been pretty bad to get it so bad.
“With friends like you guys…” Job says and then tells them to take their theology back to the dime store where they bought it. Getting no comfort from family or friend, he goes straight to God and pleads his case. His head hurts. His body hurts. His heart hurts. And he can’t tolerate anymore half baked answers. “Why is this happening to me?” Why is this happening to me.
And God answers. Not with answers but with questions. An oceans of questions. Space dosen’t permit their listing, but one or two will convey the point.
“Can you shout an order to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Can you send lightning bolts on their way? Do they come to you and say, Here we are?” (38:34-35).
After several dozen of these. Job is left on the beach drenched and wide-eyed, knowing he will never argue with the ocean again. He lifts his hands and cries, “Enough.” He has gotten the point. What is it?
God owes no one anything. No reason. No explanations. Nothing. If he gave them, we couldn’t understand them.
Which makes the conclusion of the book all the more moving. Even though God owed Job nothing, he gave him everything. New health, new business, new family. And most of all, new insight.
God is God. He knows what he is doing. When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.
Trees snap like toothpicks or fly upward, wrenched from the earth. Whole rooftops sail, cars tumble like toys, houses collapse, and a wall of water obliterates the shore and inundates the land. A hurricane cuts and tears, and only solid foundations survive its unbridled fury. But those foundations can be used for rebuilding after the storm. For any building, the foundation is critical. It must be deep enough and solid enough to withstand the weight of the building and other stresses. Lives are like buildings, and the quality of their foundation will determine the quality of the whole. Too often inferior materials are used, and when tests come, lives crumble.
Job was tested. With a life filled with prestige, possessions, and people, he was suddenly assaulted on every side, devastated, stripped down to his foundation. But his life was built on God, and he endured.
Job, the book, tells the story of Job, the man of God. It is a gripping drama of riches-to-rags-to-riches, a theological treatise about suffering and divine sovereignty and a picture of faith that endures. As you read Job, analyze your life and check your foundation. And may you be able to say that when all is gone but God, he is enough.
Job was a prosperous farmer living in the land of Uz. He had thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. Suddenly, Satan the Accuser came before God claiming that Job was trusting God only because he was wealthy and everything was going well for him. And so the testing of Job’s faith began.
Satan was allowed to destroy Job’s children, servants, livestock, herdsmen, and home; but Job continued to trust in God. Next Satan attacked Job physically, covering him with painful sores. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die (2:9), but Job suffered in silence.
Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit him. At first they silently grieved with Job. But when they began to talk about the reasons for Job’s tragedies, they told him that sin had caused his suffering. They told him to confess his sins and turn back to God. But Job maintained his innocence.
Unable to convince Job of his sin, the three men fell silent (32:1). At this point, another voice—the young Elihu—entered the debate. Although his argument also failed to convince Job, it prepared the way for God to speak.
Finally, God spoke out of a mighty storm. Confronted with the great power and majesty of God, Job fell in humble reverence before God—speechless. God rebuked Job’s friends, and the drama ended with Job restored to happiness and wealth.
It is easy to think that we have all the answers. In reality, only God knows exactly why things happen as they do, and we must submit to him as our Sovereign. As you read this book, emulate Job and decide to trust God no matter what happens.
Children never tire of asking why. Yet the question produces a bitter taste the older we get. Children wonder about everything; adults wonder about suffering. We notice that the world seems to run by a system of cause and effect, yet there are some effects for which we can’t find a clear cause, and some causes that don’t lead to the expected effects. We would expect Job’s wealth and family to give him a very happy life, and, for a while, they did. But the loss and pain he experienced shock us. The first two chapters of his story are more than we can bear. To those so quick to ask why at the smallest misfortune, Job’s faithfulness seems incredible. But even Job had something to learn. We can learn with him.
Our age of “instant” everything has caused us to lose the ability to wait. We expect to learn patience instantly, and in our hurry, we miss the contradiction. Of all that we want now, relief from pain is at the top of our list. We want an instant cure for everything from toothaches to heartbreaks.
Although some pains have been cured, we still live in a world where many people suffer. Job was not expecting instant answers for the intense emotional and physical pain he endured. But in the end, what broke Job’s patience was not the suffering, but not knowing why he suffered.
When Job expressed his frustration, his friends were ready with their answers. They believed that the law of cause and effect applied to all people’s experiences. Their view of life boiled down to this: Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Because of this, they felt their role was to help Job admit to whatever sin was causing his suffering.
Job actually looked at life almost the same way as his friends. What he couldn’t understand was why he was suffering so much when he was sure he had done nothing to deserve such punishment. The last friend, Elihu, did offer another explanation for the pain by pointing out that God might be allowing it to purify Job. But this was only partly helpful. When God finally spoke, he didn’t offer Job an answer. Instead, he drove home the point that it is better to know God than to know answers.
Often we suffer consequences for bad decisions and actions. Job’s willingness to repent and confess known wrongs is a good guideline for us. Sometimes suffering shapes us for special service to others. Sometimes suffering is an attack by Satan on our lives. And sometimes we don’t know why we suffer. At those times, are we willing to trust God in spite of unanswered questions?
@Strengths and accomplishments
w Was a man of faith, patience, and endurance
w Was known as a generous and caring person
w Was very wealthy
@Weakness and mistake
w Allowed his desire to understand why he was suffering overwhelm him and make him question God
@Lessons from his life
w Knowing God is better than knowing answers
w God is not arbitrary or uncaring
w Pain is not always punishment
w Where: Uz
w Occupation: Wealthy landowner and livestock owner
w Relatives: Wife and first 10 children not named. Daughters from the second set of children: Jemimah, Keziah, Keren-happuch
w Contemporaries: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu
“For examples of patience in suffering, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy” (James 5:10, 11).
Job’s story is told in the book of Job. He is also referred to in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11.
|A. Job is Tested (1:1–2:13)||Job, a wealthy and upright man, lost his possessions, his children, and his health. Job did not understand why he was suffering. Why does God allow his children to suffer? Although there is an explanation, we may not know it while we are here on earth. In the meantime, we must always be ready for testing in our lives.|
|B. Three Friends Answer Job (3:1–31:40)
1. First round of discussion
2. Second round of discussion
3. Third round of discussion
|Job’s friends wrongly assumed that suffering always came as a result of sin. With this in mind, they tried to persuade Job to repent of his sin. But the three friends were wrong. Suffering is not always a direct result of personal sin. When we experience severe suffering, it may not be our fault, so we don’t have to add to our pain by feeling guilty that some hidden sin is causing our trouble.|
|C. A Young Man Answers Job (32:1–37:24)||A young man named Elihu, who had been listening to the entire conversation, criticized the three friends for being unable to answer Job. He said that although Job was a good man, he had allowed himself to become proud, and God was punishing him in order to humble him. This answer was partially true because suffering does purify our faith. But God is beyond our comprehension, and we cannot know why he allows each instance of suffering to come into our lives. Our part is simply to remain faithful.|
|D. God Answers Job (38:1–41:34)||God himself finally answered Job. God is in control of the world, and only he understands why the good are allowed to suffer. This only becomes clear to us when we see God for who he is. We must courageously accept what God allows to happen in our lives and remain firmly committed to him.|
|E. Job is Restored (42:1-17)||Job finally learned that when nothing else was left, he had God, and that was enough. Through suffering, we learn that God is enough for our lives and our future. We must love God regardless of whether he allows blessing or suffering to come to us. Testing is difficult, but the result is often a deeper relationship with God. Those who endure the testing of their faith will experience God’s great rewards in the end.|
|Suffering||Through no fault of his own, Job lost his wealth, children, and health. Even his friends were convinced that Job had brought this suffering upon himself. For Job, the greatest trial was not the pain or the loss; it was not being able to understand why God allowed him to suffer.||Suffering can be, but is not always, a penalty for sin. In the same way, prosperity is not always a reward for being good. Those who love God are not exempt from trouble. Although we may not be able to understand fully the pain we experience, it can lead us to rediscover God.|
|Satan’s Attacks||Satan attempted to drive a wedge between Job and God by getting Job to believe that God’s governing of the world was not just and good. Satan had to ask God for permission to take Job’s wealth, children, and health away. Satan was limited to what God allowed.||We must learn to recognize but not fear Satan’s attacks because Satan cannot exceed the limits that God sets. Don’t let any experience drive a wedge between you and God. Although you can’t control how Satan may attack, you can always choose how you will respond when it happens.|
|God’s Goodness||God is all-wise and all-powerful. His will is perfect, yet he doesn’t always act in ways that we understand. Job’s suffering didn’t make sense because everyone believed good people were supposed to prosper. When Job was at the point of despair, God spoke to him, showing him his great power and wisdom.||Although God is present everywhere, at times he may seem far away. This may cause us to feel alone and to doubt his care for us. We should serve God for who he is, not what we feel. He is never insensitive to our suffering. Because God is sufficient, we must hold on to him.|
|Pride||Job’s friends were certain that they were correct in their judgment of him. God rebuked them for their pride and arrogance. Human wisdom is always partial and temporary, so undue pride in our own conclusions is sin.||We must be careful not to judge others who are suffering. We may be demonstrating the sin of pride. We must be cautious in maintaining the certainty of our own conclusions about how God treats us. When we congratulate ourselves for being right, we become proud.|
|Trusting||God alone knew the purpose behind Job’s suffering, and yet he never explained it to Job. In spite of this, Job never gave up on God—even in the midst of suffering. He never placed his hope in his experience, his wisdom, his friends, or his wealth. Job focused on God.||Job showed the kind of trust we are to have. When everything is stripped away, we are to recognize that God is all we ever really had. We should not demand that God explain everything. God gives us himself, but not all the details of his plans. We must remember that this life, with all its pain, is not our final destiny.|
The opening verses set the stage for this well crafted drama. Job is a wealthy, leading citizen, reputed to be very wise. When he loses herds, house, and family and is struck down with a painful illness, we see an example of the suffering of which afflicts so many. As a clue to job’s apparent alienation from God, the reader is shown that Satan, as accuser, he is actively driving a wedge between God and his beloved. If Job proves to be righteous only because “it pays,” then Satan wins his bet with God. Job’s friends do not have the benefit of this insight, but their theology (and Job’s) is quite biblical: (1) God is almighty; (2) God is just; (3) No human is entirely innocent in God’s eyes. Therefore, say his friends, Job’s suffering must be retribution for some sin – a logical answer, but not at all consoling to Job in his despair. Finally, all are silenced as God breaks in, but he gives no “solution” except to point to the greatness, glory, and power. For the most profound insight, we turn to the Cross where God takes on himself human suffering and thus defeats it forever – a solution only hinted at in the book of Job.
1 A dry crust eaten in peace is better than a great feast with strife.
2A wise slave will rule over the master’s shameful sons and will share their inheritance.
3 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
4 Wrongdoers listen to wicked talk; liars pay attention to destructive words.
5 Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.
6 Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.
7 Eloquent speech is not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler.
8 A bribe seems to work like magic for those who give it; they succeed in all they do.
9 Disregarding another person’s faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.
10A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.
11Evil people seek rebellion, but they will be severely punished.
12 It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in folly.
13 If you repay evil for good, evil will never leave your house.
14 Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
15 The Lord despises those who acquit the guilty and condemn the innocent.
16It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool who has no heart for wisdom.
17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
18 It is poor judgment to co-sign a friend’s note, to become responsible for a neighbor’s debts.
19 Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster.
20 The crooked heart will not prosper; the twisted tongue tumbles into trouble.
21 It is painful to be the parent of a fool; there is no joy for the father of a rebel.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
23 The wicked accept secret bribes to pervert justice.
24 Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish child£ brings grief to a father and bitterness to a mother.
26 It is wrong to fine the godly for being good or to punish nobles for being honest!
27 A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.
28Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.
It takes intense heat to purify gold and silver. Similarly, it often takes the heat of trials for the Christian to be purified. Through trials, God shows us what is in us and clears out anything that gets in the way of complete trust in him. Peter says, “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7). So when tough times come your way, realize that God wants to use them to refine your faith and purify your heart.
Few acts are as cruel as making fun of the less fortunate, but many people do this because it makes them feel good to be better off or more successful than someone else. Mocking the poor is mocking the God who made them. We also ridicule God when we mock the weak, those who are different, or anyone else. When you catch yourself putting others down just for fun, stop and think about who created them.
Solomon is not condoning bribery (see 17:15, 23), but he is making an observation about the way the world operates. Bribes may get people what they want, but the Bible clearly condemns using them (Exodus 23:8; Proverbs 17:23; Matthew 28:11-15).
This proverb is saying that we should be willing to disregard the faults of others. Covering over offenses is necessary to any relationship. It is tempting, especially in an argument, to bring up all the mistakes the other person has ever made. Love, however, keeps its mouth shut—difficult though that may be. Try never to bring anything into an argument that is unrelated to the topic being discussed. As we grow to be like Christ, we will acquire God’s ability to forget the confessed sins of the past.
What kind of friend are you? There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty (see 1 Corinthians 13:7)—being available to help in times of distress or personal struggle. Too many people are fair-weather friends. They stick around when the friendship helps them and leave when they’re not getting anything out of the relationship. Think of your friends and assess your loyalty to them. Be the kind of true friend the Bible encourages.
To be cheerful is to be ready to greet others with a welcome, a word of encouragement, an enthusiasm for the task at hand, and a positive outlook on the future. Such people are as welcome as pain-relieving medicine.
While there is something to be said for having big dreams, this proverb points out the folly of chasing fantasies (having eyes that “wander to the ends of the earth,” see 12:11). How much better to align your goals with God’s, being the kind of person he wants you to be! Such goals (wisdom, honesty, patience, love) may not seem exciting, but they will determine your eternal future. Take time to think about your dreams and goals, and make sure they cover the really important areas of life.
Proverbs 17:27, 28
This proverb highlights several benefits of keeping quiet: (1) It is the best policy if you have nothing worthwhile to say; (2) it allows you the opportunity to listen and learn; (3) it gives you something in common with those who are wiser. Make sure you pause to think and to listen so that when you do speak, you will have something important to say.