This morning as I consider the past few mornings and consider the blog posts of late heading into today and seeing the chapters for today’s devotional time.
Consider these posts:
Don’t lose hope! Don’t give up! (Feb 1)
Today’s reading – Day 26: Bible In One Year 2017 provides the following …
Devotional, Psalm 16, Matthew 18:10-35, Job 1, Job 2, Job 3
I remember a time when Job readings would create worry or fear. I remember the year that stopped, the year when it spoke life to me and hope. So now when I get to read this I become eager to see what God will teach me through this time. I know that God is for me and not against me! I know that God can take what ever evil gets planned and turn it around and use it for for good! So let’s see where this time through brings us and what we can learn this time through. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! Don’t flee, don’t fear, don’t worry…resist the devil and he will flee! It bigger than me and so I need to remember for those who God has brought into my life so that I can share the love of God and His compassion with them if and when they are going through troubles.
Today’s reading continues on the theme of suffering. When I think of the stories in the Bible that discuss suffering, Job does then to be the one that resonates most. Yes, there is suffering throughout the Bible and throughout the world today and so I will look deeper into what today’s devotional has for us to learn together.
What scale do you use when you are trying to decide or judge a situation? Is it the temporary time we spend on this earth? Is it against eternity with God which those who believe and trust in Him will have? Math is interesting that way, if you base fairness on the fraction of time the situation took place the number or perception or perspective can be very different. Imagine 15 years out 17? Imagine 15 years out of 90? Imagine 15 years out of eternity? 15/17 gives 15 the power to be 88% pull. 15/90 gives 15 the power to be 17% pull. 15/∞ gives 15 pretty much no power since ∞ is so much greater than anything we could ever be able to consider or calculate. Perspective! How will you look at the situation? How will you consider how you judge it? What is your focus point? Are you looking at the problem or at God?
Is the problem because of rebellion against God? What if everyone turned back to God? What if every chose to align with Him plans and purposes? What if everyone started to live lives that would glorify God? Would everyone be serving? Would everyone be helping? Would everyone be giving? Would there be a need that nobody would be helping? Would anyone be alone? Would all the orphans and widows be taken care of?
Consider the time before the first rebellion against God in the garden. Consider the time after Jesus’ final return and the coming of all the promises. We are in the middle of both of these and hence we need to work through this time we have till Jesus returns!
So let’s jump in to today’s devotional…
1. See the suffering of this life in the context of eternity
2. Understand the relationship between human freedom and suffering
3. Always respond to suffering with compassion
See the suffering of this life in the context of eternity … Psalm 16:1-11
So let’s look at the bigger picture! Let’s look beyond this temporary time we have to spend on earth! Let’s consider what today’s Psalm has to say…
1Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. 2I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.” 3I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. 5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
–from Psalm 16
Today’s psalm reveals an eternal perspective that David had in relations to his relationship to God allowing him to rejoice and be secure:
9Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. –from Psalm 16
David kept his eyes focused beyond the hear and now by keeping his eyes on God!
8I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
–from Psalm 16
David valued God more than the things of this world! David valued God’s wisdom and spent time with Him and took time to hear and listen!
5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
–from Psalm 16
Just like David, we don’t have to look at life through the eyes of the temporary but rather we can look at life through the eternity God has yet to come. We see how Peter in Acts 2 shares the Good News of Jesus and incorporates the truth of it all by recalling to the people the words of David on the day of Pentecost after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit…
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spiritand has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
–from Acts 2
So we can take heart, we can have hope, Jesus has overcome this world! So let’s not be confined by it! Let’s not be restricted by it! Let’s be living the lives God created us to live and let’s share the love of Jesus like Jesus called us to do by being salt and light in this dark world! Let’s seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! Let’s let God take care of the other parts! When we do our part, we can trust God that He will do His part!
So let’s grab onto the truth that Paul shared in Romans…
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. –Romans 8:18
Don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! Put your trust in God!
Understand the relationship between human freedom and suffering … Matthew 18:10-35
God is love! Love is not selfish! Love is not forced! Do you remember what love is?
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
–from 1 Corinthians 13
God so loved us that He gave us the freedom to choose! We all get to choose whom we will serve! We all get to choose how that impacts the way we live out our lives! God doesn’t force Himself on us! God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
We all get the choice… will you love? will you not love? We all have the freedom to choose!
Do you remember how the laws could be summarized? Jesus told us when he was asked what the greatest law was:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –from Matthew 22
LOVE GOD! LOVE PEOPLE!
Suffering isn’t directly related to someone’s sin! It’s not a one to one relationship!
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
–from John 9:1-3
Natural disasters aren’t necessarily a form of God’s punishment!
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
–from Luke 13:1-5
We need to turn back to God before it is too late! We don’t want to end up separated from God for all of eternity and have to deal with that suffering! The weeping and gnashing of teeth!
Yes we can’t say that someone is suffering because of their sins – that in many cases would only be known by them and by God. However, our sins can put us into situations where we come face to face with suffering.
When I consider God telling me to go look for a new job and I refused because I was too comfortable and then to watch the suffering that came through it that I could have avoided by simply being obedient. I learned the hard way. In other cases, it can be caused by the sins of others that suffering comes to be.
Today’s reading continues into Matthew where we read…
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. 15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” –from Matthew 18
As I highlighted Jesus’ words in red, 7×70 appeared and reminded me how important forgiveness is and how the song 7×70 is what triggered the breaking of the chains of bitterness and sorry for the freedom of forgiveness and love!
Today I feel the need to share both my story of forgiveness and also the 7×70 song…
How I shared my story with a group from work…
7×70 – a great song by Chris August…
Today’s devotional calls it out the following ways:
Jesus speaks about a sheep that ‘wanders away’ (Matthew 18:12).
When we wander away from the protection of The Shepherd we become vulnerable. But God will never stop searching for us because he ‘is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost’ (v.14).
Sin of others
Jesus says, ‘If your brother or sister sins against you’ (v.15). So much suffering in the world is the result of other people’s sin – both at a global and community level, and also at an individual one. In this passage, Jesus sets out a way of reconciliation.
He calls his disciples to unlimited forgiveness. Jesus says that when people sin against us we are to forgive them – not just seven times, but seventy-seven times (vv.21–22).
Forgiveness is not easy. The cross reminds us how costly and painful it is. Forgiveness does not mean approving of what the other person did, nor excusing it, nor denying it, nor pretending that you are not hurt. Rather, you are aware of what the other person has done and yet you are called to forgive. In your personal relationships lay aside all malice, revenge and retribution and show mercy and grace to the person who has hurt you.
Sometimes forgiving can be extremely hard. As C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.’
In the final parable, we can see the destructive nature of unforgiveness. The first servant’s unwillingness to forgive a comparatively minor debt (around three-and-a-half month’s wages compared to around 160,000 years’ wages for an average person) destroys his relationship with the other servants, and leads to the second servant being cast into prison. So often unforgiveness destroys relationships between people, and results in them lashing out against those they think have sinned against them. We see the results of this in marriage breakdowns, broken relationships, or in conflicts between different communities.
We do not earn our forgiveness; Jesus achieved that for you on the cross. But your willingness to forgive is evidence that you know God’s forgiveness. Forgiven people forgive. All of us have been forgiven so much by God that we must keep on forgiving the comparatively small offences committed against us.
I’m so thankful that God does not put a limit on how often he forgives me. Yet when I look at others I am tempted to think, ‘I’m happy to forgive once, or even twice, but if they keep on doing this surely I’m not expected to keep on forgiving.’
Cultivate in your heart the same attitude towards others as God has towards you.
Always respond to suffering with compassion … Job 1:1-3:26
Today, I will just share how the devotional closes with this point…
The book of Job is all about suffering. It is primarily about the question, ‘How should we respond to suffering?’
Perhaps we also see a hint about the origin of suffering. When the angels assembled before God, ‘Satan also came with them’ (1:6). He had been ‘roaming through the earth’ (v.7). It is clear that Satan’s objective is to cause as much suffering as he can.
It appears that Satan was a fallen angel. It seems that before God created human beings he created other free, imaginative and intelligent beings and that there was a rebellion within the spiritual realm before human beings even emerged.
A great deal of suffering can be explained as being the result of the fact that we live in a fallen world: a world where all creation has been affected, not only by the sin of human beings, but also before that by Satan’s sin. The serpent existed before Adam and Eve sinned. As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, ‘thorns and thistles’ entered the world (Genesis 3:18). Ever since that time ‘the creation was subjected to frustration’ (Romans 8:20). ‘Natural’ disasters are a result of this disorder in creation.
Satan was allowed to bring several major tragedies into the life of a man who was blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). Job suffered loss in the areas of money, material possessions (vv.13–17), family life (vv.18–19), personal health (2:1–10) and, eventually, the support of his friends.
When we face unexplained suffering it can be very easy to blame God. Although Job did not know why he was suffering, he responded by continuing to trust and worship God in his suffering, just as he had in his good fortune (1:21,2:10). The writer tells us admiringly, ‘In all this, Job did not sin in what he said’ (v.10b). He remained faithful in the most difficult of circumstances.
Initially Job’s friends respond in the right way: ‘No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was’ (v.13). In the face of great suffering, attempts to rationalise can be counterproductive. Usually the most positive thing you can do is to put an arm around the person and ‘mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15), entering their suffering and participating as far as you are able.
Today’s passage is not the end of Job’s story. In the end, God restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Now we know that, through Jesus, God has all eternity to more than compensate for all your sufferings in this life.