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Job 31:1-33:33 ~ 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Psalm 43:1-5 ~ Proverbs 22:8-9
Old Testament - Today in Job chapter 31 we will read what I think is one of Job's most profound pleadings. It is a 10th century B.C. pleading that is ultimately fulfilled by a little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Here is Job's prophetic plea in verse 35 - ""If only I had someone who would listen to me and try to see my side!" You and I are so very fortunate that we do not need to make such a plea as this. Jesus is in heaven seated on his throne and will receive our prayers! Jesus listens to us! Jesus sees our side! It is humbling to look back toward the time of Job, and realize that Jesus had not yet walked the earth as a man and taken on the sins of the world on the cross. Jesus had not yet risen from the grave and ascended into heaven. Job was looking for someone to listen to him and to see his side. You and I are blessed immensely in this regard. We do not need to look anywhere else other than toward our Savior, Jesus.
In Job chapters 32 and 33 Elihu becomes angry at Job and his friends and presents his case. In chapter 32 verses 6 through 10 today we read - "Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said (to Job), "I am young and you are old, so I held back and did not dare to tell you what I think. I thought, `Those who are older should speak, for wisdom comes with age.' Surely it is God's Spirit within people, the breath of the Almighty within them, that makes them intelligent. But sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice. So listen to me and let me express my opinion."
New Testament - I love Paul's words in Second Corinthians verse 3 - "Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts." That is a great concept! We are living letters from Jesus sent out to the world! Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter from Jesus? I have not, but I like it! It's also interesting to realize that the Spirit living within us as Christians professes and gives witness to the glory of God oftentimes without us even realizing it. I heard a quote once that said something like, "Who you are is so strong that I cannot hear a word you are saying." Basically this quote means that the inherent nature of who we are overshadows our very words. It's more important than our words - and people notice our inherent nature! Be it good or be it not so good... So, if the Spirit of Jesus is within us I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives witness and gives glory to God to others that we come in contact with - even if we don't say a word! This is the letter that we are from Christ to the world. The letter that is written on our hearts. And of course there is St. Francis of Assisi who said, "preach the Gospel at all times - use words only when necessary." Again, the Spirit of Jesus within us preaches the Gospel to the world even without us consciously saying words. Don't get me wrong - sometimes words are exactly what are needed. But oftentimes our very presence through the Spirit of Jesus living within us is more than enough. So, let us go forth into our world this week as living letters from Jesus to a hurting and dying world that so needs the Good News of the Gospel! You are a letter from Jesus!
Psalms - I think Psalm 43 verse 5 starts off with a couple of questions that then answer themselves by the end of the verse - "Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God!" I would agree with what this verse is getting at. If I find myself to be discouraged or sad, it comes as no great surprise to me that I have been putting my hope in things other than God. I have been perhaps even praising false idols. And the sure fire way to be freed from the discouragement or sadness? To put my hope once again in God and God only. And to praise him again! I think this Psalm verse is a great reminder to make sure we are not placing our hope in anything other than God. For anything other than God will only leave us empty in the end.
Proverbs - I love Proverbs 22 verse 9 - "Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor." It reads like an additional Beatitude from the book of Matthew / Sermon on the Mount. And it's so straightforward. Blessed are those who are generous. Why? Because they feed the poor. Doesn't get more straightforward than that! Although, I will say that we can be generous not only with our money, but in so many ways that we live our lives. We can be generous in spirit - to feed the poor in spirit. We can be generous with our time - to feed those who are time-starved. We can be generous with our encouragement - to feed those who are feeling down. We can be generous in our prayers - to feed those who may not yet know how to pray. And yes, of course, we can be generous with our finances - to feed those who are physically hungry. What are some ways that you are generous with the poor?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!