Devotions for Job 1:1-22
June 27-July 3, 2016
Monday, June 27, 2016
“There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1).
Using an out dated colloquialism Job was a “righteous dude.” He didn’t have any character flaws–none! Job was blameless and upright. A person can’t get much better than that, but Job took it an extra mile. Job feared God and turned away from evil.
The person who wrote down the story of Job had a reason to stress Job’s righteousness. He wanted to dash any notion that Job’s fearing God was either the cause for Job’s success or the reason for all of the evil that befell Job. It is an easy trap in which to fall. We do something good and we think we deserve being rewarded. When we do something bad we expect to be punished. God doesn’t work that way.
God doesn’t keep a storehouse full of rewards for good behavior. God really isn’t impressed with people who brown nose; who try to butter God up in order to get God to bless them. Neither does God spend time doling out punishments, though we may reap the natural consequences for our actions. God, however, does promise to be with us through the good and bad of life. This truth is cause for celebration.
God of Steadfast Love, thank you for your presence in our lives in the good times and the bad times. Enable us to be strengthened, encouraged and comforted by this truth. Amen.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
“There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He had seven thousand sheep” (Job 1:2)
Job had all the marks of success. He had a large family–important in the days before social security, Medicare and 401k’s. Job was also wealthy. He had thousands of head of livestock. Job didn’t need to worry where his next meal would be coming from or if the harvest would be big enough to pay the bills. Job had it made.
Often success lures us away from God. We look around and pat ourselves on our backs for jobs well done. We congratulation ourselves on our keen intellect, work ethic, dazzling insight and tenacity. We don’t need to pray as often or with such intensity–why should we, everything is under control. Luke shares a story who was in a similar situation to Job. The parable is called, “The Rich Fool” and it is found in Luke 12:13-21. The man had a bountiful harvest and he was proud of this fact. He decided to invest in himself and build Morey storage area for his harvest. The man ignored both his relationships with God and with those in need.
The rich fool died that night and his wealth and selfish plans did not help him. Job, though fabulously wealthy, did not escape tragedy. The lesson is clear. Wealth and possessions are not the ultimate security. Bad things can not only happen to good people, but also to rich people. Our ultimate security is our Lord. God is our fortress, our strength and our redeemer.
God of power and might, forgive us when we look for security in all of the wrong places rather than seek you and allow you to be our refuge and rock. Amen.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
“Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).
The Ranger’s instructions were clear. Be aware of the surroundings. Don’t get between a bear and her cubs, or a buffalo and her calf. These animal mothers will protect their young and unaware hikers and ignorant tourists might get hurt.
Parents have that paternal instinct of protecting their young. Over protective mothers are tempted to keep their children from anything that might be even remotely be considered dangerous. Protective fathers grill any boy who would have the audacity to ask their daughter on a date. Parents fret and worry over their children, but if the truth is known, parents cannot protect their children from everything. Job tried and failed.
Parents will always be concerned about their children, but it is important for them and for us to remember that our ability to protect is very limited. True safety is found only in the hands of the Lord. Our protection abilities are also severely limited as friends. Security and safety is found only in the Lord. Even in the midst of tragedies God is present and holds us all in the palm of God’s hands.
Loving Lord, we confess that we are not able to prevent tragedies from occurring. We place our loved ones into your hands. Surround them with your love and hold them close to you. Amen.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it” (Job 1:7).
The writer of Job obviously has a very different perspective on Satan, than most of us have received from our Sunday school classes. Satan is not the personification of evil and God’s ultimate enemy. Instead Satan is in God’s service walking to and fro on the earth keeping a watch on things. One of Satan’s activities, though, is still the same. Satan is still an accuser. We know how he works.
Susan was a successful lawyer and a great mother. She was, however, burdened by guilt. A voice was always accusing her of not spending enough time at her work to justify her paycheck. That same voice accused her of neglecting her responsibilities as a mother and not being there for her children. If Susan ever missed a parent/teacher conference or came late to a game that voice grew louder and her guilt quadrupled. Miguel had risen quickly in the company. Recently he had been promoted to the position of Regional Manager. Miguel was thankful for the blessings in his life, and proud of his success. He was also racked by guilt. A voice kept telling him that he wasn’t good enough for the position of Regional Manager and that he was a fraud. That voice told him that people would discover the truth and he would be exposed as the charlatan that he was. The accuser robbed both Susan and Miguel of joy and self-confidence–just like the accuser robs us.
We are a broken people and sin is certainly a part of our lives. There are times when the Holy Spirit is justified in revealing how our words, actions and attitudes do not honor God nor do they share God’s love and grace with others. The purpose of the Spirit’s movement in our lives is to bring us to confession, repentance and forgiveness. When we are responsive to the Spirit, the accusations cease. Satan, the great accuser, convicts us of general wrong doings. His purpose is not to bring us to confession, but to take away the abundant life that is ours through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The only thing that quiets his accusations is God’s affirmation. We heard it first at our baptism–that we are God’s children, whom God loves and with whom God is well pleased. These are the words we long to hear.
Loving Parent, give us deaf ears so that we do not hear the accuser’s words, and open hearts so that we can sense your Holy Spirit and hear your words of affirmation. Amen.
Friday, July 1, 2016
“‘ Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil'” (Job 1:8).
It had been a year since her birth and Carry was about to begin a new adventure. She pulled herself up and stood at the side of the coffee table. With the encouragement of her parents, grandparents and a few friends who had gathered to celebrate her birthday, Carry turned away from the table to take her first wobbly step. She collapsed after her second step, but that didn’t stop her audience from cheering wildly. They were proud and excited about her accomplishment. The Ramoses yelled enthusiastically along with a dozen other parents at their son’s soccer team. The boys weren’t pro material, but all of their parents were proud of them and excited for them.
We so often envision that God is displeased with us. It is true, we are not perfect, in fact we are far from it. But we are God’s children. God’s Spirit dwells within us and moves through us. As disciples of Jesus we live in a vital relationship with God, and seek to serve God and to share God’s love and grace with the people around us.
The Lord is not ashamed of us, but rather God is proud of us. God does not regret that we are a part of creation, but celebrates the fact that we are. God is like Carry’s family that cheered her on even though she fell–and would continue to fall along with taking more and more steps. God is like the Ramoses cheering enthusiastically as we play the game of life and strive to be the very best at using our gifts and talents. God spoke like a proud parent to Satan when God said, “Have you considered my servant Job?” While looking down on us, God excitedly taps a few spiritual beings on their shoulders and says, “Hey, do you see my servants down there? They’re really something great, aren’t they!”
Divine Encourager, thank you for your words of affirmation and for your encouragement to strive for excellence in our lives. Amen.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
“‘Very well, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against him'” (Job 1:12)!
None of us have had the day that Job had. He lost everything–family, land, wealth and health. We do know what Job felt, though, that devastating sense of loss. Some of us have received that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night, when our lives changed forever. Others of us have seen those concerned look on the doctors’ faces when they came to give us the results of the tests, which we had been put through. We have experienced loss and grief and have thought that we would not be able to endure the pain.
Yet, we have endured. We have lived to tell about it. We are not the same people we once were; we have been changed. Perhaps part of that change has been our relationship with God. We have learned things about God. Our faith may have matured, deepened and strengthened. Evil has not overcome us and we can now look forward to another day of life, love and relationships.
Precious Lord, forbid that the difficult times in our lives drives us away from you. Rather, draw us closer to you and help us to rest in your love and grace. Amen.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
“‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord'” (Job 1:21).
Shelley had a mantra that she would repeat during the difficult and trying times of her life. The mantra was simple, “This too shall pass.” When she was in the middle of a migraine headache Shelley would repeat these words over and over again. At the office party that she didn’t want to attend she would smile, make polite conversation and repeat to herself, “This too shall pass.”
This mantra might not only be appropriate for difficult, painful or unpleasant situations. It might also be good for us to use it as we look at the “things” of our lives. The house that we cherish and worked so hard to improve will one day belong to someone else. This too shall pass. The car of which we are so proud will one day rust, break down and be replaced. This too shall pass. The shoes that we just had to have, and the clothes that will help us make a statement will get old and worn. This too shall pass.
We can say this about everything in our lives, except one. Our relationship with God will never pass. It will not get old, worn, rust or wear out. This will not be because we have held on so tight to it, or because we have been so diligent in the practice of spiritual disciplines. It will be because of God’s commitment that God will never leave us or forsake us. God’s love for us is everlasting and God’s commitment to us is eternal.
Faithful Lord, Whether you give or take away, may you always be praised. Enable our grip on the things of this world to be light as we rejoice in the strong embrace of your love. Amen.