Jesus spent His life bearing the insults of those who insulted God. King Hezekiah’s messengers received much the same reaction in the tribes of Israel when they presented the invitation to return to the Lord and celebrate Passover (2 Chronicles 30:10).
To the backslidden Israelites, the archaic idea of a Passover in Jerusalem was absurd. The messengers sincerely tried to turn the Israelites’ hearts back to God, but the results were the same in village after village: “But most of the people just laughed at the messengers and made fun of them” (v. 10). However, the Scripture records that “some . . . humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem” (v. 11).
If we just want to please ourselves, we will not venture out into the stream of evangelism where our feelings may get hurt. The burden of evangelism, however, belongs to God, and if we love Him, we will be willing to “bear the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:13). We must realize that we are simply messengers delivering an invitation that others can either accept or reject. If Jesus was reproached, so must we be.
Rejoice if men ridicule you. You are bearing the insults of God!
Prayer is the key that overcomes the enemy in battle. Hezekiah prayed on two different occasions and thus overcame tremendous struggles. First, he and Isaiah prayed against the invasion by Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:20), and God sent His angel to completely destroy the enemy’s army. Then, in a struggle for his life, Hezekiah sought God, and God healed him in answer to his prayer (v. 24).
Manasseh, too, experienced the power of prayer to change a difficult situation. While in a Babylonian jail, he prayed to the Lord, and God miraculously delivered him and restored him to power. What powerful illustrations of prayer and its ability to release God’s deliverance these examples are!
Paul understood this principle of prayer when he asked the Romans to struggle with him in prayer that he might be “rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God” (Romans 15:31). David voiced a similar prayer: “Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for I trust in you” (Psalm 25:20).
Your spiritual leaders need your prayers. Pray diligently today for them to be protected, fruitful, and refreshed. Your prayers may save their lives!
You are promised victory! God is the God of peace, and it is His desire for you to have peace like a river in all areas of your life. Satan comes in to interrupt that peace and tranquility, but God is with you to help you crush Satan. Not only will you bruise him, but you will actually crush him!
Besides being promised that you will ultimately crush Satan, you are promised it will happen soon. This word means “quickly,” “in haste,” “speedily,” or “shortly.” God will not leave believers fighting Satan forever, but “will grant justice to them quickly!” (Luke 18:8).
Finally, the Holy Spirit describes the position in which Satan belongs: under your feet! Jesus told His disciples, “I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you” (Luke 10:19).
Pursue the devil until he falls, and then crush him under your feet! Then you can boldly proclaim with the psalmist, “I have taken a stand, and I will publicly praise the Lord” (Psalm 26:12).
This is a promise of God’s faithfulness to His own. All day—day in, day out, year in, and year out—God’s faithfulness is great. Man, in his stubbornness and rebellion, may drift away from God, but through it all, “He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).
No matter what difficulty life throws your way, God has promised to “keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). David was so convinced of the faithfulness of God that he could say, “Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will know no fear. Even if they attack me, I remain confident” (Psalm 27:3).
On the other hand, God is faithful to execute His judgment upon those who reject Him even after He has repeatedly warned them to repent. Gradually, but surely, He tightens the screws of justice until the person repents or brings about his own destruction.
As hard as it is to believe, some people actually do choose the path of destruction. In 2 Chronicles 36:13, we read that “Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Following his example, the people of Israel grew more and more unfaithful, ignoring God’s repeated warnings until finally “the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).
If life is uncertain right now, cling to the one certainty: God is faithful! You can be sure that “He will keep you strong right up to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:8).
How difficult it is for our flesh to sit and wait! This proverb implores us not to take matters of revenge into our own hands and say, “I’ll pay you back for this!” God’s pace of justice is far slower than ours. He is long-suffering and full of grace, while we, on the contrary, are quick to judge and swift to repay.
David said, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). Had Abram waited on the Lord for his miracle son, he would not have ventured into the fleshly union with Hagar (Genesis 16). The result of his impatience remains with us today in the ongoing problems in the Middle East.
The two lessons we must learn in order to obtain a promise are faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12). A large part of faith is simply refusing to yield to the thought that God somehow will be late. Though he may have felt nervous on the outside, David stayed confident on the inside. He waited patiently for God to act and said, “Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
You, too, will see the Lord’s goodness if you learn to patiently wait upon Him in faith.
What a sight it must have been when the song of the Lord was again sung in Jerusalem for the first time in almost a century! Seventy years of captivity in cruel Babylon gave way to a restoration of praise and worship. With praise, thanksgiving, and shouting, the people of God jubilantly rejoiced, saying, “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” (Ezra 3:11).
Even today God is restoring praise and worship to His Church. Ezra 3:13 tells us that “the joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud commotion that could be heard far in the distance.” And so will our praise be heard by a lost world that is waiting for some sound of the joy of the Lord.
Satan hates the praises of God, for they represent a regathered people, a determined people, and an evangelistic people. Also, some people will not understand our praise because the man without the Spirit does not understand those things that come from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Praise releases the waiting hand of God. Decide today to stay in the “praising crowd.” After all, that is your destiny throughout all eternity!
Ezra and his companions labored to reconstruct the temple at Jerusalem. When their actions were brought to the attention of Darius the king, he approved the building project. Furthermore, he supplied all the necessary materials for construction, while the people provided the work.
Ezra worked to rebuild a physical temple, but you are working on a spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:10). God Himself has provided the foundation, the equipment, and the materials in His Son, Jesus Christ. You are God’s fellow worker, laboring to build on this foundation the types of works that will stand the test of time and eternity. “If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames” (vv. 14-15).
Your work for God will become the most important thing to you the moment you stand before the judgment seat of Christ. If your work on earth was hasty, superficial, and self-exalting, it will be destroyed. If it was deep, rooted in love, and glorifying only Christ, it will last.
This spiritual temple you are building is all that is worthy of your life’s work, so give it your all. You will enjoy the rewards of your work for eternity.
What a stewardship we have! Paul said that he was Christ’s servant, entrusted with the secret things of God. Similarly, Ezra and his men were told to deliver unto the God of Jerusalem those things that were entrusted to them for worship in God’s temple (Ezra 7:19).
Just as the precious gold and silver articles of the temple were entrusted to Ezra, so we have been entrusted with the deep secrets of the doctrines of God: justification, sanctification, and glorification.
“Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful”
(1 Corinthians 4:2), and we are to treasure the truths we have been given by the Holy Spirit.
No careless hands touched the precious temple articles, but they were carefully preserved and protected until they reached Jerusalem. We must reverently carry the truths of the Christian faith, viewing them as more precious than gold, silver, or diamonds.
Let us hold the gifts, doctrines, and ministries we have received with faithful hands, and one day we will deliver them safely to the New Jerusalem and present them to the One who entrusted us with them.
Ezra realized that if he tolerated the intermarriage of Israelites with foreign women, eventually the holy seed would become extinct and the Messiah would never come (Ezra 9:2). Just as Ezra was appalled at the Israelites’ terrible breach of God’s law, Paul was equally horrified that sin had crept into the church at Corinth. He ordered the excommunication of the one who was in open, unrepentant sin so that the Body of Christ could participate in a pure Passover feast.
Just a little bit of yeast will cause the dough to rise, and a little sin mixed into a church will cause it to be filled with the “bread of wickedness and evil” (1 Corinthians 5:8). We must separate ourselves from any so-called brother who continues to sin through immorality, greed, thievery, or idolatry.
Separating ourselves from unrepentant sin benefits not only us but also the whole Church. The end result? The Church will be protected, and perhaps the offender will repent and be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5).
Your body is a temporary house that you occupy before moving into eternity. The body itself is not evil, only the sinful nature that manipulates it. Concerning the human body, Paul first taught the Corinthians that their bodies were “actually parts of Christ” (1 Corinthians 6:15). It would be unthinkable to take Christ’s body and place it in an immoral situation! In the same way, you must consider your body as respectfully as you would Christ’s own body.
Second, Paul stated that the body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit”
(v. 19). To use it in outward sin, therefore, obviously grieves Him. If you consider an earthly temple as holy, how much more should you respect a temple where the Holy Spirit is physically present!
Finally, Paul says, “You were bought at a price.” Your body is worth the highest price ever paid for anything—the blood of Jesus. If God sets such a high price on your body, how much more should you cherish it!
Value your body, and don’t cheapen it with immorality. Refuse to yield it to the desires of the sinful nature. Keep it pure, and one day it will be glorified like Jesus’ body.
Nehemiah found a waiting enemy in Sanballat. As soon as Sanballat heard about Nehemiah’s intentions to rebuild Jerusalem, he and his cronies mocked and ridiculed Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:1-3).
Whenever you launch out for God in obedience to His Word, the devil will be right there to tell you how foolish you are to even consider such an idea. He points to those who have tried the same thing but failed. He questions your motives, accusing you of only wanting recognition. He laughs at you in hopes that you will never start, for he knows that when you are resolved to finish, “the God of heaven will help [you] succeed” (Nehemiah 2:20).
For Nehemiah, when the battle was over and the wall rebuilt, he could say with David, “Praise the Lord, for he has shown me his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack” (Psalm 31:21).
Whatever you are doing for the Lord, “be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). Let the enemy ridicule, scorn, and mock, but God will have the last laugh!
Have you ever been in a pitched battle? Nehemiah was! As he neared the end of constructing the wall, he remained ever vigilant. He never took off his armor in the day of battle and kept his weapon with him at all times. Relaxation was not an option.
At times the spiritual warfare in life can reach a fever pitch. Satan knows when you are approaching a breakthrough threshold in the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. But just like a sports team that fights hardest in a goal-line stand, you’ve got to hold steady and remain firm in the fiercest moment of battle.
As Paul said, “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm”
(Ephesians 6:13). When you are facing a crisis and engaged in spiritual warfare, don’t stop battling the devil until the breakthrough comes. There will be plenty of time for rest when the battle is won!
Integrity is the missing ingredient in many leaders today. Nehemiah, however, taught and modeled a sacrificial lifestyle that was above reproach. Although he had a right to be pampered, he refused to place a heavy burden on the people (Nehemiah 5:15). Although others had lorded it over the people, Nehemiah devoted himself to the work on the wall (v. 16). In addition, he never demanded the fine food allotted to him as governor (v. 18). He was a man of rare integrity who led by his example.
A life of integrity demands a lifestyle of accountability that involves one’s money, priorities, and motives. God was so blessed by Job’s integrity that He described him as “the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity” (Job 2:3). In the New Testament, Peter reminded the elders not to be greedy for money, but eager to serve; not to lord it over those entrusted to them, but to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Those you lead can tell if your heart is influenced by the work or the benefits of the work. If you aspire to leadership, seek integrity. God will be sure to make a place for you!
A sad Christian is no witness for God. Ezra read the Book of the Law to the Jewish remnant, and when they heard God’s words, “all the people chanted, ‘Amen! Amen!’ as they lifted their hands toward heaven. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
Why should church services and times of preaching be times of sadness and boredom? When the people wept after hearing God’s words, Nehemiah told them, “Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared” (v. 10). The Israelites obeyed and celebrated “with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them” (v. 12)
Later that month, in celebrating a major festival that had been unobserved for many years, the people lived in booths for seven days, and “everyone was filled with great joy” (v. 17). Another observance followed, and this time for six hours at a time the Levites led in worship, saying, “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!” Then they continued, “Praise his glorious name! It is far greater than we can think or say” (9:5).
Why should Christians ever lose their joy? Someone has said that if the devil can’t steal your joy, he can’t spoil your goods. Even in your most difficult moments, look to eternity, where you will forever rejoice, world without end. Take a drink today from the joy of heaven, for it is your strength!
David tells us three things we must do to emerge victorious from troubles. First, he tells us to praise the Lord (Psalm 34:1). When we bless the Lord for all His benefits, boast in the Lord concerning His attributes, and exalt Him for His goodness, we are focusing on Him instead of our troubles. How easy it is, though, to let trouble take over our thinking to the point that we forget how great God is!
Second, David tells us to seek the Lord (v. 4 KJV). To seek means “to inquire diligently,” or “to reach a place of desperation.” David knew this kind of desperate crying out to God and the results it brought: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (v. 6 KJV). Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, Moses stretched out his rod, Peter put on his sandals . . . and God delivered from sickness, danger, and imprisonment!
Finally, David said to reverence the Lord (v. 9). We must examine every area of our lives to be certain our giving, our words, and our relationships are in order. In this way, we honor God.
When we praise the Lord, seek the Lord, and reverence the Lord, we will be delivered from all our troubles!
So often when we walk through a crushing experience, we feel like God is a million miles away. The enemy tells us that God does not care and is not interested in our problems. David reminds us, however, that God is nearest to us when we are broken in heart.
When the earth was dark and without form, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2). Never forget: Whenever your life seems dark and no solution is in sight, the Spirit of God is actually hovering over you, guarding you in the midst of trial.
Someone once said, “When you have a broken heart, you must give God the broken part.” David gave God his broken heart in repentance after his sin with Bathsheba and reminded God that “the sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). God responded by healing David’s broken heart and restoring his soul.
You must bring your broken heart to God and let Him heal it, for a “broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22). Go to Jesus with your broken heart, for He was anointed to “comfort the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). Why not reach out and ask the Holy Spirit to touch you where no human surgeon can? He is near. Let Him do His work right now.
How quickly the enemy tries to sneak back into areas we have removed him from in the past! In the first chapters of Nehemiah, we see a man named Tobiah causing Nehemiah great problems. Nehemiah defeated him, yet sometime later we find Tobiah living in the temple where the tithes and offerings were kept!
We should never lose our vigilance in fighting the devil. If we relax after a victory, he will try to sneak in the back door and continue his wickedness. Peter instructed us to be on guard against the devil because “he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Any house left vacant gradually falls into ruin. When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he found that the tithes had not been paid, and the duties of the priesthood had been neglected. In addition, the people had failed to keep the Sabbath and had even intermarried with the heathen (Nehemiah 13:9-25).
Because Satan always returns to a house that is unoccupied even though cleansed (Matthew 12:44), we must guard our souls against his counterattacks. He is like a crocodile stalking its prey, probing for an opportunity to attack and waiting for the relaxation of vigilance. Let’s stand our ground and watch carefully, throwing him out at the slightest sign of reentry!
Society’s hatred for the Jews has always been extreme and inexplicable. The magnitude of their suffering defies reason. The fact remains, however, that Satan knew salvation (Jesus) would come from the Jews, and thus he sought at every turn to destroy the Jewish people.
The Jews’ worship of the true God and their rejection of idolatry led Mordecai to refuse to worship any human being (Esther 3:5). Haman’s well-conceived plot looked foolproof, but God had been engineering a rescue operation about which Haman knew nothing. Working her way up to the right hand of the king was a little orphan (Esther), who would ultimately be the tool of deliverance in the hand of God.
Satan is enraged by anyone who refuses to bow down and worship him, and he will do whatever he can to destroy such a person. Satan’s best plans, however, are no match for God, who knows the end from the beginning and the “way out” of the problem before the “way in” even existed!
Stand still and wait on God, for He has known the solution to your problem since before it came into existence!
Paul shows us that we are a totally interrelated body, not just independent parts thrown together. No part of the human body can continue to function normally when one part is in pain. The whole body focuses its attention on the area afflicted. In the same way, Mordecai sent word to Esther not to think that just because she lived in the palace she would escape the sentence of death imposed on the Jews (Esther 4:13). If she did not help, she would be destroyed, too.
Our influences and gifts are given to us by God to help others for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Let us take inventory of the positions, finances, and grace of God in our lives and see whom those gifts were intended to help. If we keep them for ourselves and do not identify with those in need, we will cry for help one day and no one will respond.
Because Esther was obedient, the words of David’s psalm came true in the case of Haman: “Look! They have fallen! They have been thrown down, never to rise again” (Psalm 36:12).
In looking back on his long life, David could highlight five attitudes that helped him not to worry, or “fret not,” as the King James Version reads (Psalm 37:1). In common language, we might say “sweat not” because the original word used means “to be under heat or pressure.” When you are walking through a fiery trial, it is imperative that you learn how to “fret” or “sweat” not!
The first thing you’ve got to do is “trust in the Lord” (v. 3), or have an inward confidence that God is going to bring you through to the other side. With a conviction in your heart that God is on your side and wants to do you good, you can face anything.
Second, you must “delight in the Lord” (v. 4), or make the Lord “delicious” to you. Just as a son enjoys his father’s company, so you must enjoy your heavenly Father’s company. Are you truly delighted to spend time with Him, “tasting” of His goodness?
Third, you must “commit everything you do to the Lord” (v. 5), or roll your problem onto Him, acknowledging Him as the only One who can carry your heavy burden. If you commit your problem to Him, you don’t have the option of taking it back! It is too heavy for you; you cannot carry it in your own strength.
Fourth, you must “be still in the presence of the Lord” (v. 7). This implies rest, not continually magnifying Satan’s attack through your speech.
Finally, you must “wait patiently for Him to act” (v. 7), keeping a constant sense of expectation that your miracle is right around the corner. It’s never easy or pleasant to simply wait, but it is the key to seeing God move on your behalf.
Trust, delight, commit, be still, and wait. Your fretting will disappear, and God will bring the victory!
How furious Satan was at Job, a man who was “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil” (Job 1:1). Satan continually plotted, planned, and accused Job before God until God finally gave him permission to breach the protective hedge (vv. 10-12).
How could God do such a thing? He had confidence that Job would continue to serve Him, regardless of circumstances, and that Job would prevail over the enemy.
“The wicked plot against the godly . . . but the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming” (Psalm 37:12-13). How can God laugh when we are under such attack by the wicked? The Bible records that God laughs only when someone threatens Him: “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from this slavery.” But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:3-4).
God has no problem with confidence, and He also has confidence in you, or He would not allow you to encounter trials. When you laugh at the enemy’s attack, you are simply treating Satan the way God treats him. Pass on through your trial with the laughter of God in your mouth. He is not threatened, and neither should you be!
The local church exists for two reasons: the edification of the believer and the evangelization of the unbeliever. All the gifts of the Spirit are intended to edify, or build up, both the person who is releasing the gift and those who are receiving it.
When we go to church, we should be thinking of what God has given us that day that we can share with the other believers. Do we have a song to sing, a testimony to share, money to give, or words of prophecy to speak? If we share our gifts in love, “everyone will learn and be encouraged” (1 Corinthians 14:31). And perhaps even more importantly, unbelievers present with us will be touched in their hearts and say, “God is really here among you” (v. 25).
It is imperative that we, as members of the Body of Christ, understand our gifts and move in them in love. When we release the gifts of the Spirit that are within us, we grow in grace, other believers profit, and unbelievers repent.
Which gift do you bring to your church?
The cry of man throughout the ages has been for someone who could act as an umpire in the game of life. Job envisioned a mediator who could be on equal terms with both God and man and could reconcile us to the Father.
In Christ’s resurrection, Paul presents a picture of the man Job was looking for. “So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:21). Only a “God-man” could come to earth, die for our sin, and be resurrected as the Son of God.
Jesus, the second Adam, is the Umpire, the One who can stand between God and man to reconcile us. His resurrection has assured us that in the end, He will humble “all his enemies beneath his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). Let us look to Jesus as our Hope, both now and forever!
In an illustration of a tree stump, Job saw a revelation of the resurrection. He envisioned a decaying tree stump with old roots suddenly reviving at the “scent of water” (Job 14:9). Out of the apparent deadness came tender shoots. New life sprang forth from seeming death.
Then Job asked the question of all ages: “If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release” (v. 14). Job received the revelation that in death the physical body simply waits for its renewal to come. In the resurrection day, at the “scent of water,” our dead, lifeless bodies will be quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit and made immortal like Jesus.
Need encouragement? “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The resurrection is coming!
Through all Job’s struggles, two things brought him hope: there was Someone in heaven who would represent his cause, and even if he died, he would be resurrected. Job longed for an unseen intercessor, who would “mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends” (Job 16:21). John tells us that we do indeed have Someone to act as a mediator for us, and “He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely” (1 John 2:1).
Through all the false accusations leveled by his “friends,” Job clung to one central thought: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25). That reality led him to a second conclusion: “And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God” (Job 19:26). This is the clearest statement of Job’s belief in the resurrection. He knew that even after his body was destroyed, he would see God in his own flesh.
Hold to these two great truths for encouragement: Your Advocate is praying for you, and one day, in a glorified body just like His own, you will see Him face-to-face.
In his depression, David had obviously reached a point of such despair that he was sure his troubles numbered more than the hairs of his head. Paul was in a similar position in the battles he faced in Asia.
“I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
Even in that kind of pressure, Paul found a secret that sustained him. He discovered God as the “source of every mercy and the God who comforts us” (2 Corinthians 1:3). When God comforts us and shows us His mercy, it has a double effect: we learn to rely more on Him, and others learn from our deliverance. We can never totally identify with others until we have walked their paths, and God will use our troubles to become a testimony to others in need.
Lift up your head and let the God of all comfort minister to you right now. Then “many will give thanks” (2 Corinthians 1:11) to God on your behalf, and God will be glorified in it all.
David’s words relate how important it is to know that your conscience is clear when you go through a trial. Satan, the accuser, is quick to send others to question your motives, character, and conduct. But even if all three areas are pure, you still can come under attack from the enemy.
No amount of accusation from Job’s friends could sway his conscience. He declared, “I will never concede that you are right; until I die, I will defend my innocence. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live” (Job 27:5-6).
Paul, also an object of accusation, wrote to the Corinthian church, “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom. This is how we have acted toward everyone, and especially toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
Of course, neither Job nor David nor Paul was claiming perfection, only godly sincerity of heart. Never let the devil slander your conscience if you have walked in integrity. A weak or wounded conscience will destroy you. Stand up to the accuser, and wait for the vindication of the Lord!
How easy it is in a trial to live life looking through the rearview mirror! Job could not help but remember the times of total peace and prosperity when nothing was wrong and he felt the continual presence of God.
Such rear reflection is destructive, however, because it brings a deep sense of regret and remorse instead of hope for the future. The sons of Korah wrote, “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks—it was the sound of a great celebration!” (Psalm 42:4). The effect of such backward gazing is depression. “Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?” (v. 5).
Paul learned to no longer look at the past but to consider the future as one long triumphal procession in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14). You cannot relive the past—you can only walk with Jesus into the future. Put your past under His blood. Take His hand today and let that relationship give off the aroma of Christ to a watching, waiting world.
What a comfort it is to know that in our hour of darkness, the Lord will remember those things which we have done in secret for the poor and will reward us openly (Matthew 6:4)!
Job rehearsed his heart for the poor as a statement of his genuine consistency before God. He looked at his servants as his equals because he believed that “God created both me and my servants. He created us both” (Job 31:15). He ministered to the needs of those less fortunate by helping widows and caring for the fatherless (v. 18).
James said, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us” (James 1:27). David observed, “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The Lord rescues them in times of trouble” (Psalm 41:1).
Rather than seeing it as a burden, we must look upon helping someone in need as an opportunity from God to show love. Our concern for the less fortunate may one day be revisited upon us!
What a powerful witness it is to walk in the light! Paul actually states that a clean, pure walk with the Lord is what helps us to commend ourselves to others. The process is actually very simple. The Holy Spirit shines the light of Christ upon our lives, changing us “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV). That unveiled glory is then reflected from our faces to a darkened, oppressed world whose eyes have been blinded by the “god of this evil world” (4:4).
“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (4:6). From within these “perishable containers” (v. 7) shines out the very glory of the Creator God who spoke a billion suns into existence in one moment!
We are “full of light from the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8), and as we walk in the purity of Jesus’ face, a lost world will behold Him. We walk through pressure, perplexity, and persecution with victory, so that the “life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:10).
Our greatest witness? Our radiant shine!
In this verse God patiently explains to Job the limitations He has set for the waves of the sea. Sometimes we think evil has no bounds— that it has free reign to wreak havoc in our lives without any restrictions. However, God Almighty sets the stopping point for the attacks of the devil against us.
In Job’s life God had a predetermined time when He would suddenly throw the whole process into reverse, thus ending the greatest test endured by any human being other than Christ. Job’s patience in trial became the most significant witness of patience in biblical history: “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 5:11).
The proud waters of evil may be threatening to overwhelm you, but God knows the moment when they will hit their predetermined limit. On that day your enemy will be like a wild dog at the end of a long chain, and you will be able to rest peacefully as God says to the enemy, “This far and no farther!”