Many years back I was given the opportunity to take a precision questioning class. It was a technique that was used to make sure you understood the subject while at the same time understand how much the presenter understood the subject. In the class I learned how the executives had used this technique over the years and how the way various people would handle it would impact the rest of their career. Some made stuff up or lied which became career limiting moves because the executives either knew or figured it out. Others were open and transparent and would give the answer “I don’t know” or “I don’t know but let me find out for you”. The purpose of the technique is to learn how deep your knowledge of the subject was and how thoroughly you had thought through your proposal, idea, or plan.
Do you realize it is OK to not know every answer? Do you realize it is OK to say you don’t know? One other thing I learned in the class was to not use it on friends and family because of the way it makes people feel! It was quite interesting to have the instructor say that while at the company top level executives used it as a basis for how they ran their meetings as it helped them determine quickly and efficiently what things they should or shouldn’t purse, continue, stop, … This technique helps get deep understanding of complex situations, problems, applications through the use of simple flows and questions. And the key is to be honest and not make up answers as the A part of the processes Q&A. Integrity is important – if you lose trust you won’t have a leg to stand on!
This is true in all aspects of life! We may not have all the answers, however, we do know the one who does! God! When we consider Daniel when the king said tell me my dream and its interpretation or I will kill all of you (all the “wise” people), Daniel went to God because the right answer in human reality was that nobody knew. Daniel went to God and God revealed to him great things from the dream to the interpretations of the dream. There are some things we may never know until we can be face to face with God in heaven! Don’t make stuff up, speak the truth in love! When people ask questions about God or the Bible, we can be clear about the things the Bible is clear about but we need to be able to say we don’t know when we don’t.
So when people ask you questions, they may be trying to pinpoint your answer through precision or not, but either way we need to be clear and concise, honest and filled with integrity when we offer them an answer! Pray and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you and provide you with wisdom! Pray and find peace and answers to the very situation!
Day 37: Bible In One Year 2017 Devotional, Psalm 18:37-42, Matthew 24:32-51, Matthew 25:1-13, Job 38, Job 39, Job 40:1-2
Today’s devotional covers 3 big questions! Let’s consider what we can learn from today’s devotional on answering them…
The Secret Things
1. What does the future hold for me? … Psalm 18:37-42
We need to hold onto God’s Word and God’s Truth when we consider questions people are asking us. We need to remember “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” We need to remember God’s timing is perfect! “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” and so we can trust Him and His timing and His plan to give us hope and a future! God knows what you have need of! God knows when you have need of it! God knows there is no point of you having it early or late! God’s timing is perfect! We might know where or when or how or how or what but we do know who is able to meet our every need!
37I pursued my enemies and overtook them;I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 38I crushed them so that they could not rise;they fell beneath my feet. 39You armed me with strength for battle;you humbled my adversaries before me. 40You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,and I destroyed my foes. 41They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—to the Lord, but he did not answer. 42I beat them as fine as windblown dust;I trampled them like mud in the streets.
–from Psalm 18
When we need strength we can trust in God that He will provide. We see in today’s reading how David shares how God took care of him! He armed David with strength for the battle! He knew what would be necessary to give David victory! David trusted in God! David’s trust in God from the caves to the palace gave him confidence in God and humility before God! By not knowing what is ahead or by not having what you will need too early keeps us from the anxiety or worry or fear that could arise knowing that something big is coming. But no matter what is about to come, we can have peace and courage because we know our God is able to meet all our needs and God is greater than anything that can come our way!
Today’s reading brings to the table the known and the unknown for us to consider and ponder if and when we are faced questions…
What we don’t know
Like David, what you don’t know is which battles lie ahead. However, for most of us, it would probably be very unhelpful to know exactly what the battles will be.
What we do know
As the saying goes, ‘We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.’ What David knew was that since God had ‘armed [him] with strength’ (v.39) in the past, he would do so in the future. You can know that God will supply you with the strength you need when you need it.
So whatever lies ahead, we can trust in God that He will provide what we need to make it through and provide not only victory but a testimony of how great our God is!
2. When will Jesus return? … Matthew 24:32-25:13
We don’t know the exact time (not even the angels know)! We know signs that it is drawing closer! We know that we won’t be able to miss it and so anyone who pretends to be Him coming back should not be believed since there is no way for us to miss His second coming (Matthew 24:27, 30, 31, Revelation 1:7)! So let’s review today’s reading which tells us things we do know and don’t know…
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
–from Matthew 24
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
–from Matthew 25
Again today’s reading brings us the reality there are things we know and don’t know…
What we don’t know
Jesus makes it absolutely clear that no one knows when he will return. He says, ‘No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’ (v.36). There were certain questions to which even Jesus (while he was on earth) had to say, ‘I don’t know.’
So much time and energy has been wasted speculating about the exact time that Jesus will return. We are not meant to know when Jesus will come back because we are supposed to ‘keep watch’ (v.42) and be ready for him to return at any moment. This is one of the ‘secret things’ (Deuteronomy 29:29a) that belong to God.
What we do know
Jesus tells us to learn from the fig tree. When the leaves come out ‘you know that summer is near’ (Matthew 24:32). Jesus says if we look at the signs then ‘you know’ that Jesus’ coming ‘is near’. Therefore we are to ‘keep watch’ (v.42; 25:13) and ‘be ready’ (24:44).
We know too that although his coming is near, it may be a long time before he comes (25:5). And we also know that he will come at an hour ‘when you do not expect him’ (24:44). Whenever he comes it is going to be a surprise and the key is to be ready for him to come at any moment.
To enable us to see what it means to be ready for his return, Jesus paints a picture of the difference between a servant being wise or wicked. The wise servant remains ready for their master’s return by remaining faithful to their master’s instructions and honourable in the way they treat others. The wicked servant is faithless to their master’s instructions and destructive in how they treat others. The conclusion is markedly different (compare v.47 with v.51). In other words, you are ready for Jesus’ return if you live a life where you love God and love others.
However, underneath this love for God and love for others is the key component of what it means to be ready for Jesus’ return. In the parable of the ten virgins, the bridegroom says to those virgins who have been asleep and are not ready, ‘I don’t know you’ (25:12). We see here that the key lies in a different type of ‘knowing’. It is not intellectual knowledge but personal knowledge.
Ultimately, it is not about what you know, but about whom you know. It is about having a personal relationship with the bridegroom. In the end, this is what matters more than anything else – knowing Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).
So today, let’s find our hope in nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness! Let’s pursue loving God and loving people as our mission for today! Let’s not grow weary in doing good work! Let’s not slip away but rather let’s cling to God each moment of each day of our lives! Let’s be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us! Let’s be ready for Jesus’ return! Let’s build up our relationship with God being good stewards of what God has given us! Let’s build up our relationship with God not miss out on what He has prepared for us to do in advance! Let’s build up our relationship with God so that on that day when He returns we will get to hear Jesus say “well done my good and faithful servant”!
3. Why does God allow suffering? … Job 38:1-40:2
What if God starts asking you questions? What if God tests your true intentions? What if God asks questions of the heart? How will you respond? Will you give honest and open answers? Will you admit to knowing what you know and not knowing what you don’t? You realize He knows what you know right?
When friends are going through troubles, don’t jump to conclusions and assumptions that cause you to say things that you aren’t even sure are true! Don’t make statements that could be received as hurtful when you really aren’t sure of the truth of the situation! It’s better to say you don’t know than to make up fiction or lies! Don’t try to walk around like you know it all! Don’t try to put up a fake pretence but rather live out life in truth!
In Job, we see challenges in how Job’s friends respond! In Job, let’s consider what God has for us to learn today from today’s devotional…
What we don’t know
God asks him forty-nine questions (in poetic language) about the natural universe to which Job, if given the chance, would surely respond, ‘I don’t know.’ Many of the questions start, ‘Do you know…?’ (v.33; 39:1–2). It is almost as if God is lovingly teasing Job. He says to him, ‘Surely you know!’ (38:5) and, ‘Tell me, if you know it all’ (v.18b, AMP).
The point of God’s questioning is to demonstrate the fact that there are certain things that we do not know as human beings – the ‘secret things’ belong to the Lord our God. This is especially true in relation to the issue of suffering. Theologians and philosophers have wrestled for centuries with the problem of suffering and no one has ever come up with a simple and complete solution.
When you are suffering you will not always be able to work out why. God never told Job why he was suffering (even though we know part of the answer from the start of the book), but he did tell him that there was a good reason. He pointed out to Job that he really knew very little about the universe and asked him to trust God.
The book of Job is not so much about why God allows suffering as it is about how we should respond to suffering. To use the technical, theological terms, it is more theophany (appearance of God in the midst of suffering) than theodicy (theological explanation of suffering).
What we do know
In tomorrow’s passage we will see that Job recognised that there are some things ‘too wonderful for me to know’ (42:3). In other words, there are some things that you are never going to know in this life. On the other hand, there are some things that you can know, ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted’ (v.2).
You can know that God is ultimately in control and therefore you can live at peace and confidently trust that, in everything, God will work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
In this world we will face troubles, but Jesus tells us to take hope because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33 – http://from2005toeternity.info/Overcome)
We will face trials of many kinds, but Jesus tells us to consider them pure joy because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And that we are to let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.(James 1:2-4 – http://from2005toeternity.info/PureJoy)
Today’s reading concludes in Job…
The Lord Speaks
1Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 2“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—7while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? 12“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 13that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 15The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? 18Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. 19“What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 22“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 23which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 24What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 25Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, 27to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? 32Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? 34“Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? 36Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding? 37Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? 39“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions 40when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? 41Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
–from Job 38
1“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? 2Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth? 3They crouch down and bring forth their young; their labor pains are ended. 4Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. 5“Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes? 6I gave it the wasteland as its home, the salt flats as its habitat. 7It laughs at the commotion in the town; it does not hear a driver’s shout. 8It ranges the hills for its pasture and searches for any green thing. 9“Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will it stay by your manger at night? 10Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness? Will it till the valleys behind you? 11Will you rely on it for its great strength? Will you leave your heavy work to it? 12Can you trust it to haul in your grain and bring it to your threshing floor? 13“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork. 14She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, 15unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. 16She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, 17for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. 18Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. 19“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? 20Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? 21It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. 22It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. 23The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance. 24In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. 25At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. 26“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? 27Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?
28It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is its stronghold. 29From there it looks for food; its eyes detect it from afar. 30Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.”
–from Job 39
1The Lord said to Job: 2“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?Let him who accuses God answer him!”
–from Job 40