Job 8

“Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?” (v3). Job’s friends didn’t like the way Job reacted to his multiple tragedies. Job was angry and questioned God, which Bildad felt was both useless and arrogant (a “great wind”, v1-2). Bildad assured Job that his situation was perfectly clear: God was punishing him (and his family) for sin, and they should repent (v4-6). Bildad ignored the facts about Job’s righteousness because the reality was too disturbing: sometimes good people suffer.

Bildad got one thing right: “For our days on earth are but a shadow (v9).” God does not pervert justice; He is always good. However, we can’t always understand His ways.

I Corinthians 12:15-31

“The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (v21). Paul’s idea of “church” was neither a building nor an audience of people who listened to or watched a performance. “Church” was the gathering of the Body of Christ, each member being essential to healthy functioning: eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc. Some (v28-29) had more visible, leadership gifts, but they needed the rest of the Body to be whole. Connected in Christ, the members suffer and rejoice together (v26).

Whatever our background (v13), we have received the same Spirit. Rather than competition and divisions, we are called to serve one another (v25).

I Corinthians 12:1-14

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (v7). Paul fought hard for the principle that God desires to use every believer by His Spirit for “the common good.” In the Old Testament, the Spirit was active in a few special people who spoke God’s truth to Israel, but after Jesus’ resurrection, the Spirit was poured out on the whole group of Jesus-followers. The Spirit gives “varieties” of gifts (v4-6) to men and women, young and old, so that we are all encouraged, instructed, and built up in faith.

God’s Spirit empowers each member of the Body in a unique way so that together our testimony is clear: “Jesus is Lord” (v3).

Psalm 107

“He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in …” (v7). God shows his “steadfast love” (v1) to men and women in all kinds of trouble. Some are lost, hungry and thirsty (v4-5), and He brings them into a settled community (a “city”) and satisfied their longings (v7). Others are prisoners, in bondage because of their own rebellion, and when they repent, He frees them (v13-14). For travelers, He calms the storm and brings people to their “desired haven” (v30).

Our good Father knows we need “a city to live in” (v36). He frees us, calms our storms, and gives us a place and a purpose in His kingdom.

Job 7

“When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn” (v4). Job described the way our troubles become magnified at night. Instead of resting after a distressing day, we often feel worse, tossing and turning or suffering from nightmares (v13-14). We lose hope, lose perspective, and can’t imagine that light will break into our darkness (v18-21). But God is still there.

“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him …?” (v17). Even when we feel alone, we can trust that God has “set His heart” on us, and His light is greater than the darkness.

Job 6

“What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?” (v11). Job felt like his strength was already gone, and yet he didn’t see the end of his troubles. He wanted to lean on his friends, but they had nothing to offer: “you see my calamity and are afraid” (v21). Job’s situation confounded their simplistic view of good deeds producing a good life. Therefore, they avoided dealing directly with him (v28-29). Job felt abandoned.

“Have I any help in me …?” (v13). Our own resources are limited, and our friends are only human. But we know “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

Job 5

“As for me, I would seek God …” (8). Eliphaz urged Job to seek God, thinking that Job was surely being disciplined for sin (v17-18). Like everyone else, Eliphaz believed that those who followed God would be free from trouble (v19-20); therefore, Job’s disasters were evidence of Job’s own mistakes. However, Eliphaz was missing a huge part of the equation: the hidden context in which God had already declared His approval for his faithful friend, Job (ch 1). Job’s troubles were certainly not the result of personal sin.

“God …who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things …” (v9). God’s “unsearchable” things include using the difficult events of our lives to draw us closer to Him.

Job 4

“Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands … But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed” (v3-5). Seeing Job’s disasters and total misery, Job’s friend Eliphaz declared that after comforting others during their troubles, now “it’s your turn.” What Job knew second-hand, through others, now he experiences first-hand. Though Eliphaz doubts Job’s strength, Job displays an honest, stubborn faith – one that includes questions and anger and defies expectations.

“Is not your fear of God your confidence?” (v6). God’s unchanging love is our confidence, not only when things go well, but also when our world turns upside-down.

I Corinthians 11:16-34

“When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk” (v20-21). Jesus had given His followers the sacred tradition of communion - eating and drinking together to remember His death, resurrection, and return (v23-26). However, the Corinthians weren’t sharing their food and drink in a reverent way, but instead indulging themselves, ignoring those with less to eat, and even getting drunk. Their behavior needed self-correction (v27-31) to avoid real judgment.

“I hear that there are divisions among you …” (v18). Divisions and in-fighting within the Body of Christ undermine the radical unity we share because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

I Corinthians 11:1-15

“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman” (v11-12). Within this Christian context of interdependence, men and women together in the Lord, Paul was concerned that some people were not showing proper respect for the marriage relationship (husbands being “head” over their wives, v3) during worship, and this was distracting. Women had amazing freedom in church – they were prophesying, v5 – yet order and respect were important as well.

“All things are from God” (v12). Rather than being controversial or self-focused, our worship should direct attention to our Savior and Lord.

Psalm 106

“Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, … did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (v7-8). The Israelites weren’t worshipping the God of Abraham when they were slaves in Egypt, yet God miraculously delivered them anyway. He guided them through the desert, though they “murmured in their tents and did not obey the voice of the Lord” (v25). He wanted them to trust Him as Savior (v21)

God loves us and forgives us not because we live up to His expectations, but “according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (v45).

Job 3

“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (v1). As bad as this sounds, Job was simply expressing his despair. He questioned the point of his own life, but he did not do what his wife recommended: “Curse God” (2:9). Job’s integrity meant that he could honestly question everything, express anger, and even regret his own birth, but he did not walk away from God. Job took his grief straight to the only One who did understand.

“I am not at ease, nor am I quiet …” (v26). We don’t have to be quiet in the face of grief or trouble. We can take our emotions and our questions to the One who loves us.

Job 2

“Have you considered my servant Job …?” (v3). The strange conversation between God and Satan in the book of Job reveals something surprising: God has great confidence in His servant, Job. Satan thinks that Job’s faith is shallow, based on personal success, and that a severe testing will expose Job’s self-centeredness. But God sees Job’s heart, and He has no doubt that trials and testing will only “expose” Job’s stubborn integrity (v3). Job looks like a man dependent on his blessings, but God knows the truth.

“A blameless and upright man …” (v3). God wasn’t punishing Job or trying to make him fail. Even when we can’t see the whole picture, we can trust that He is on our side.

Job 1

“The was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job …” (v1). The long, complex book of Job begins with a simple truth: very difficult things can happen to good people. Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (v1), yet he lost everything. In his day, wealth and family were viewed as rewards for righteousness, and disaster was interpreted as God (or the gods) punishing evildoers. But Job did nothing wrong and could not control what happened to him.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord” (v21). Like many of us, Job was faced with circumstances he didn’t understand. In the midst of tragedy, he held on to the Lord.

Esther 9-10

“The days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday …” (v22). The Jews celebrate this event as Purim (v26), marking the time when they had nearly been exterminated, but instead, “the reverse occurred” (v1); they were victorious against their enemies. Esther’s story is a picture of how God’s kingdom is “the reverse” from the world; those who use their power for evil, seemingly without consequence, will one day face His justice.

“And no one could stand against them” (v2). By faith we live according to the values of God’s kingdom, because only His rule is eternal.

I Corinthians 10:15-33

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful” (v23). Paul was clear that meat offered to idols wasn’t inherently dangerous; believers could freely buy it in the marketplace (v25). However, they should avoid “participating with demons”: they should not join in with those who were eating the meat to honor idols (v20,28). Believers had “liberty” in terms of their consciences (v29), but they were responsible to act in way that communicated faithfulness to Jesus in the sight of others.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (v31). Rather than prioritizing our own preferences or comfort, we are called to consider God’s glory and the well-being of others.

I Corinthians 10:1-14

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (v6). Paul used the Israelites that followed Moses in the desert as a severe warning to New Testament believers. Though they ate “spiritual food and drink” and followed “the Rock that was Christ” – they experienced God’s grace and His miraculous provision day by day – they still became idolaters and indulged in sexual immorality (v8). Their “spiritual experiences” were not enough; they did not commit their whole selves to God but instead chased other things.

“Flee from idolatry” (v14). Forgiven by Christ, we are called to reject the temptations of immorality, greed, and pride and instead to live as His holy people.

Psalm 105

“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered” (v5). Israel was supposed to rejoice and keep telling the great things God had done for them. When they were “few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation” (v12), God protected them. He never forgot His promise to Abraham, even when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. He “brought His people out with joy” (v43) for a purpose: “… so that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws” (v45).

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (v4). The God who has already done “wondrous works” still gives us His strength.

Esther 8

“The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor” (v16). The Jews, a minority population from a conquered country, were vulnerable in the Persian Empire; at any time, their rights could be denied, or suspicion cast on them. To protect Esther, Mordecai originally made her keep her identity a secret. Yet God had not abandoned them. Though Haman had arranged for their annihilation, instead, Mordecai received royal robes (v15), and the king gave the Jews the right to defend themselves.

“There was gladness and joy …” (v17). We rejoice that the Messiah’s birth in a stable proclaims the same message: God loves the humble and heals the broken-hearted.

Esther 7

"Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?" (v5). Written like a play, Esther’s story reaches its climax when the evil Haman is exposed before the king. The man at the king’s right hand is revealed to be a cruel, petty, disloyal schemer: “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” (v6). Though set in a palace, the story expresses the longing of ordinary human hearts – that in a world of darkness and confusion, one day, truth will be revealed, evil exposed, and God’s righteousness, in the end, will win.

“It shall be fulfilled” (v2). Like Esther and her people, we wait. We know that the salvation begun in Bethlehem will be completed when our King returns.