Job 34

Vs. 36, “Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man!” Indeed, Job has been tested to the utmost! Elihu started out with calm intentions, but his emotions are beginning to get the best of him. Like Job’s three friends before him, Elihu appeals to the justice of God. Question: How could Job cry out for justice? Surely Job was getting what he deserved. Elihu shares really nothing new on the matter. Yes, their defense of God’s justice is right, but they still lacked a full perspective. No one was privy of God’s testing of Job from the very beginning. No one was privy that though God is just, He is also a very loving and compassionate God. They couldn’t conceive Job was innocent of wrongdoing when all the supposed evidence showed otherwise.

Regarding application…Godly Perspective. Vs. 35, “Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.” I shared this in my message today to Roots Ministry from the book of James. We are limited in our knowledge and insight. Elihu was too quick to slander and judge Job’s character. Though Job’s friends claimed wisdom, their pride was their downfall. The enemy uses pride as his weapon of choice. Job was a man who endured tragedy that we cannot imagine. And his friend’s lack of perspective was throwing salt at his wounds. I wonder how often our own words of supposed encouragement have hurt others we intended to help? Brothers and sisters let us not be too quick to make a hypocritical judgment of others.

Luke 18

Vs. 1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  The Parable of the Persistent Widow (vs. 1-8) continues to illustrate what we should be doing while we wait upon the Lord’s return.  Question: What does this most interesting parable teach us?  Because God is just, we should seek to have an enduring faith.  The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (vs. 9-14) is a stark contrast between the two types of attitudes we have towards prayer, others, and ourselves.  Question: Which one are you?  Jesus uses this opportunity of teaching humility by using the babies and children as true examples (vs. 15-17).  Children and babies are completely dependent on their parents, and we should be dependent upon our Father in heaven.  The encounter with the rich (young) ruler (vs. 18-30) was also recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 19.  Indeed, it is a sad result, for this rich man’s love of what the world offers is microcosm of how people generally respond to the Gospel.  But be rest assured, the treasures and hope of heaven are far more than what the world offers.   Though the disciples did not understand Jesus’ road to the cross (vs. 31-34), they would see that Jesus lived what He taught.  And lastly, we see a wonderful miracle of a blind man receiving his sight (vs. 35-43).  The Gospel of Matthew mentions there were two.  What a contrast response from the rich ruler to the blind beggers!

Regarding application…Pride vs. Humility.  Vs. 14, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Question: If pride and humility were people in a boxing match, who is winning the rounds so far?  Pride has humility against the ropes.  Pride is seeming to get all the cheers.  But humility has the right trainer in its corner.  And when the final round begins, the knockout punch is going to be delivered!  Question: Which side are you on?  Take time today to consider if there is some pride that needs to be trimmed off of your life.

Luke 4

Vs. 14, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.”  After being led by the Spirit for forty days in the desert (vs. 1-13), Jesus begins His ministry.  Unlike Adam in the garden, Jesus is able to overcome temptation.  The enemy played into Jesus’ hands and this helped reveal some of his tactics.  Satan tried to question God’s love & provision in the first temptation.  And the next two deal with the desires of the flesh and the things we see.  Jesus display’s His love and devotion to the Father’s will and His power over the enemy.  Luke gives us a wonderful brief look into Jesus’ visit to His hometown Nazareth (vs. 14-23).  Jesus reveals that He is the fulfillment of Scripture (vs. 21), not just for the Jew but also the Gentile (vs. 24-30).  Certainly, this enraged the Jewish audience who became an unrepentant and exclusive-minded people.   Jesus leaves the town He grew up in and travels to Capernaum where this would be temporary headquarters during the Galilean ministry.  Though Jesus defeated Satan in the battle of temptation, the enemy and his cohorts were and still are battling.  Luke gives us a vivid picture of the reality of spiritual warfare (vs. 31-44) as Jesus heals and drives out demons.  Question: Why does Jesus rebuke the demons to be quiet about His identity?  Because, Jesus does not need the testimony of the enemy to legitimizGe His ministry.

Regarding application…Temptation’s Test.  Vs. 13, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”  It’s important to note that temptation did not stop with Jesus in the desert, nor does it stop for us.  When we are tempted, this is not sin.  It’s when we give into the temptation’s test.  It’s important to note that God is sovereignly in control of the enemy’s tactics.  Like Jesus in the desert and Job in the Old Testament, there are times when temptation can be allowed by God to test us.  Question: What temptation test’s are in our life these days?  When I was moving up the corporate ladder in the bank a few years ago, I found myself quite tempted at the allurement of making a name for myself.  It was the temptation of pride and independence that began to entice me.  Fortunately, the Lord worked in this prideful heart of mine and in my weakness, I became stronger in Him.  Take time allow the Holy Spirit to convict your heart to lay down anything that is hindering your faith in the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8

Vs. 1, “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.”  Question: What happens when everything seems to be going our way?  What happens when we are given so much out of God’s graciousness?  God loves His people; He shows it through blessings, tests and even discipline.  God doesn’t penalize us for individuals who choose to harden their heart.  There will be a danger for God’s people not take Him for granted when the enter the Promised Land.  They will begin to rest on their wealth and prosperity.  Already, God miraculously provided food and water in the wilderness and even magically kept their clothes from wearing out or their feet from swelling (vs. 4).  It was important for all of them to remember the faithfulness of God during their wilderness travels.  Don’t forget where you came from.  We hear stories of our families who came before us.  The struggles of coming to a new land here in America.  This is very much like Moses was doing to help build their identity and faith.

Regarding application…Do Not Forget.  Vs. 18, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”  Question: What was the real danger?  Their heads would begin swelling with pride when they looked at the provisions that they have now (vs. 12-13).  Certainly, this would not apply to everyone.  However, this exhortation was given as a heads up to everyone because it is a temptation that can infiltrate any heart.  Love of money and possessions mixed with pride will destroy us (vs. 19).  Often we hear people state, “What’s the big deal?”  The big deal is whether we will have eternal life with the Lord or eternal life in hell.  I would say that’s a pretty big deal.  Brothers and sisters, don’t let your hearts grow hardened and forget about the Lord.  Pray for your church and encourage others around you in your life to draw nearer to God.

I Corinthians 5

Vs. 1, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.”  Question: What is going on here?  Almost all biblical scholars point out that a “man’s father’s wife” is referring to his stepmother.  In this particular instance, she might have been significantly younger and this might have led to the immorality.  In fact, this kind of sexual immorality was even frowned upon by a very sexually immoral culture in the Greco-Roman world.  God had made it very clear in Leviticus 18:8, that this type of sexual immorality was forbidden.  To make matters worse, the church in Corinth handled it incredibly poor.  There was pressure in this young church to conform to the pattern of the world.  Question: How do live pure lives in an immoral world?  Paul’s charge for the Corinthians to hand this man over to Satan (vs. 5) can be a confusing one.  In Paul’s time, the world was considered Satan’s territory, so in essence, Paul was saying let this man go back into the world.  What we are seeing here is church discipline.  Question: Why should we cast out a Christian who is sinning?  Because, Jesus gave us this very mandate (Matthew 18:15-20).  Church discipline is done not for condemning, but rather to bring this person to a deep repentance.  This sexual sin became quite public and the Corinthians didn’t want to do anything about it.  In many ways, the church was prideful and thought that they were exercising their freedom and love in Christ by not disciplining their brother and being open to any type of wayward life (vs. 6-8).    In the last part of our passage (vs. 9-13), Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to have nothing to do with professing Christians who deliberately live a public sinful life.  Notice, it’s professing Christians.  We are to reach out to a sinful world who needs to know Christ.  The issue here was that in order for the church to be a light to the world, we cannot be sinning in ways that even the world would find offensive.

Regarding application…Do Something.  Vs. 12, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.”  It’s interesting to note that when it came to divisions in the church, people were doing something about it, but when it came to sexual immorality, no one wanted to respond.  By not responding, the testimony of the church in Corinth was at a huge risk!  The unsaved world is living by their old nature of sin.  When the church lives in the same way, it is a very serious thing.  For some, it almost seems like the bible is contradicting itself regarding judging.  But the distinction is important because we are to exercise discernment and judgment in the church, but it is not our role to judge the world (Matthew 7:1).  I’ll give a hypothetical situation: There is a deacon in the church who is very influential and serving very faithfully.  However, it becomes a very public thing to the church and the community of a sex scandal where he has committed adultery with several women.  The church takes all the steps mandated by Christ to help reconcile this man back to repentance, but he refuses to change his lifestyle.  It is at this point that it is appropriate to do something about it.  In the end, if the deacon leaves the church and over a few months of sinful living realizes his situation and comes back with a repentant heart, the church should absolutely accept him back into the fold.   This was a very difficult passage today, but I encourage you to realize that God has a purpose for His church!  We must be loving and obedient in all that we do with the full intention of bringing people back into a relationship with the Lord.  The more we know God’s word, the better testimony we have as a church to the world that God loves so much!

I Corinthians 4

Vs. 14 “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.”  Question: What is Paul writing them that may have seemed to shame them?  He was calling them out and concluding his statements about their division.  They were putting their spiritual servants on pedestals and rivals against each other (We were reminded of that in chapter 3).  Instead, God was raising up servants to help the Corinthian church work together (vs. 6-7).  And you may be surprised to see sarcasm in the Bible, but that is exactly what Paul uses (vs. 8-13)  Their pride had made them think they were more mature than they were (vs. 8).  By doing this, they were treating God’s servants like slaves in a gladiator arena not realizing that the road to being a Christian was a road of humility not pride.  Paul then ends this section of our chapter with some measured sensitivity (vs. 14-17).  Though there were many who could help, it was God who appointed Paul to be their spiritual mentor/father (vs. 15).  Lastly, though Paul couldn’t come right away (He was in Ephesus), he would send Timothy with a warning to them all to get divisive attitude out of their hearts (vs. 18-21).

Regarding application…No More Pride.   Vs. 6, “Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.”  It was pride that was their downfall with division.  They were exalting each other and their leaders.  Their pride clouded their judgment and they were going beyond what God had taught them.  We must exercise faith in such matters and realize that God has appointed leaders to imitate (in a Godly way).  We should do our part in supporting each other and not favoring others.  It seems pride is easier to accuse in others than realize that it is in us.  Question: What is pride?  Rebellion against God (Holmans Bible Dictionary).  Take time to prayerfully consider how pride may be affecting your relationships in life.  Be honest and bring it to the Lord!

Obadiah 1

Vs. 1, “The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom—We have heard a message from the Lord: An envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise, and let us go against her for battle.”  Over the centuries, Israel/Judah had a contentious relationship with her neighbor Edom.  Certainly from the very beginning, the history between the two brothers (Esau & Jacob) was a rocky one.  Edom refused passage when Israel was on their journey from Egypt.  Israel and Edom continued a power struggle.  Obadiah is given a vision and writes this prophecy in prose and poetry form.  Edom’s land was elevated and therefore much harder to attack (vs. 3) and this led to her pride.  But, Edom’s pride would be her downfall as her allies would become her enemies (vs. 5-7).   Edom’s delight in Judah’s downfall would now come back to bite them (vs. 10-15).  But God will restore Judah and destroy Edom (vs. 16-18).  And lastly, the prophecies of Obadiah did come true as Edom eventually lost her land.

Regarding application…Prideful Heart.  Vs. 3, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself.”  Question: What is pride?  To simply state, pride is lifting up.  There actually can be a good pride, Paul was proud of the churches and boasted in Christ.  But, in most cases in the Bible, we see pride as a negative thing of it brings no glory to God.  Pride is thanking ourselves and giving no credit to our Creator.  Pride is thinking we can do it on our own.  Pride is thinking we deserve things in our lives.  Pride is bringing glory to ourselves.  This is what happened to Edom.  Question: Do you have a prideful heart?  Pride can come in different forms.  We can be proud of our racial identity (Asians have a tendency towards this).  We can be prideful of our accomplishments (Grades, athletics, musical talent).  We can be proud of our money and careers.  We can even be too proud about our spiritual lives or the church we belong to!  Consider what is going on in your heart this week.  If there is any pride in your heart, give it to the Lord and give Him the glory!

Hosea 14

Vs. 9, “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”  God is going to allow the Assyrians and later the Babylonians to conquer their land.  But, the ways of the LORD are right.  God is calling Israel through His prophet Hosea to repent.  It is a message that is a common denominator throughout Scripture.  When we ask for forgiveness and repent, God hears us (vs. 2).  You see, there is miracle going on that is unseen.  The miracle of God’s grace to an undeserving people (vs. 4-8).  We are to be discerning and choose wisely the ways of the Lord (vs. 9)

Regarding application…Free to Choose.  Vs. 4, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”  Setting aside the controversies of election vs. free will…I want us to focus on God is choosing to love us freely.  Jesus had a choice in the desert, throughout his ministry and in the garden to do the will of the Father.  God created and chose to give His love freely.  Question: What are you choosing in your life?  Repentance or sin?  Perhaps the reason we do not choose God is because we love our life on earth too much.  We think we can do a better job.  I think of all the critics out there.  We look at the mistakes of others and are quick to judge them.  Question: Why?  Because, perhaps we think we could do a better job.  We see the mistakes of Actors, celebrities, sports stars and shake our heads.  That is our pride and that is sometimes what we do with God.  We choose ourselves and think God has it all wrong.  Brothers & Sisters…Hosea is calling us to choose to walk in the ways of the righteous.  Don’t let others, the enemy or this world influence your heart.  Let us choose freely and wisely.

Hosea 5

Vs. 3, “I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt.”  It’s hard to see our own sins and mistakes.  Hosea would have to point out the sins of Israel for turning away from God.  It’s important to see that God would force them to turn back to Him.  This was a heart matter.  God’s people wanted Him, yet were in love with the other god’s of this world.  Eventually, they turned completely from God.   God would bring consequences and judgment (vs. 8-15).

Regarding application…Break Us Down.  Vs. 14, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.”  In Proverbs, we are reminded that Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).  God would have to break down all that the people held dear to their hearts.  Though He would use the Assyrians to scatter, it was for the purpose of drawing them back to the Lord.  Don’t forget that missing in the verses is the heart of our Father.  Israel is like a rebellious teenager who thinks they know the right way.  Being broken down by God is not easy, but know His love never fails!

 

Daniel 4

Vs. 5,I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.”  We are given quite a twist in the story!  Some things are familiar: Nebuchadnezzar, a dream and Daniel’s interpretation.  Question: What makes this so interesting?  Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged and repented of his ways (vs. 37).  Biblical scholars are on both sides of the fence when it comes to Nebuchadnezzar repenting to the point of salvation.  I believe Nebuchadnezzar was saved.  It doesn’t matter who you are or the position you have, God extends His grace to all.  Of course, this is contingent upon if we accept it.

Regarding application…Pride.  Vs. 37, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”  It’s dangerous to disconnect ourselves from this story.  Notice how Nebuchadnezzar was up and down in his emotions in this chapter.  Going from scared, to prideful, and then to being humbled.  In many ways, I would not wish the type of power and temptations upon any of my friends, much less my enemies that Nebuchadnezzar had to endure.  While we may not ever be a King or ruler of a land, we struggle with pride just like Nebuchadnezzar.  Recently, I heard Kobe Bryant going through a divorce with his wife.  When Kobe proposed and married her, I’m sure he was thinking that divorce was not something that was going to happen to him.  Having millions of dollars, many are now poking fun at him for not signing a prenuptial.  She is now entitled to half of what he has and that is not even including the adultery charges and millions she will get on top of the half.  Money and power have a power over us that is quite dangerous.  By God’s grace Nebuchadnezzar was restored from his pride.  Question: Is there pride in your heart that needs to be dealt with?