The majority of the New Testament writings begin and end with the mention of help from heaven in the form of grace that comes to us by the Spirit of God. Grace saves us, and it is grace that consistently changes us through the glorious agony of sanctification as we live our everyday lives. When grace is our tutor unto Christlikeness, whether things are good or bad, we are pressed to forget those things which are behind and to move forward unto the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We pursue Christ, allowing His grace to mold us into His image.
Wisdom literature is one of the more difficult genres in the Bible. Though New Testament epistles might be the easiest for us to read and understand today, it's important to keep a balance of all biblical genres in our personal reading and corporate teaching.
These next two cycles of debate can be read in Job 15-33.
Are we trying to get the infinite things of God into our small finite minds? This is the reality of Job as he struggles through his horrific ordeal. As his friends wield accusations, Job seeks to press his mind and heart to know the wonders of the sovereignty of God. He believes it, yet it seems too wonderful for him to fully know. As he struggles through the months of his God-ordained calamity, God’s grace presses him to know and rest in the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
By Job 2:10, Satan has done his worst to Job and retreated from his life. God is silent and doesn’t make sense, and Job is alone.
Three of Job’s friends come to commiserate with him in Job 2:11-12. They respect his agony and sit with him in silence for 7 days.
In chapter 3, Job speaks. He asks the question “Why?” twenty times in this book, and a few are in this chapter. He asks why he was born (Job 3:3-10), why he is still alive (Job 3:11-19), and why he can’t die now (Job 3:20-26).
Peter says it is exciting to look up, for the end of all things is near (1 Peter 4:7)! Christians in crisis spend more time in prayer. When we are in a difficult time, 1 Peter 4:7-11 says we must find our way by God’s grace to do these things:
There are many sources of pressure in our lives. Job, school, deadlines, finances, expectations, marriage, family, singleness, success, athletics – all these can exert pressure on us in ordinary life. Cultural circumstances and social situations can add more pressure on top of that. What do God's people focus on prioritizing when living under intense pressure?
Last week, we studied the believer's reality of possessing great spiritual treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). The rest of our passage describes further realities that believers are assumed to enjoy.
Paul's discussion of ministry with integrity permeates 2 Corinthians through chapter 7. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 can be divided into 5 sections which we will study over a couple weeks.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties. 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 gives 4 truths we can use to maintain effective ministry as a church during these providentially difficult times. Last week, we looked at the first.
Paul makes the Corinthians believers aware of his own hardship in 2 Corinthians 1:6-11. We can benefit from other people's struggles. They encourage us to persevere and endure in our own walk of faith until Christ returns.
During this unique time in our world, we will suspend our regular series and instead look at passages that remind us of who God is, what He has done for us, and how He comforts us so we can comfort others. Our church family is personally and corporately strengthened as we continue to learn and live in the comfort of God.
The word "suffering" appears 16 times in the book of 1 Peter. The recipients of the letter came from different backgrounds and were facing the difficulty of persecution. Peter emphasizes God's grace as the only thing that helps in such times. It helps us stand firm and endure (1 Peter 5:12).
In our American church context, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. So there is much for us to learn from Solomon's wisdom for wealthy people in this section of Ecclesiastes.
Many of us may not feel wealthy when we look at our budgets. The Bible says that we should be content with food, clothing, and shelter (1 Timothy 6:8). By that standard, especially compared to the majority of people in our world, we are an affluent group of people. Solomon gives wisdom for wealthy people to maintain our eternal purpose for living.
The next section of Ecclesiastes we will study is Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:15. The beginning of chapter 6 instructs us how to navigate life's apparent divine inequalities. The message of the book is consistent: God's people must persevere in enjoying God and His blessings, even when God seems unfair.
Solomon's examination of the apparent anomalies and contradictions that confront our lives every day continues in Ecclesiastes 4. Walter Kaiser describes the progression of thought from chapter 3 to chapter 4 as follows:
We long to see people we love. Christians love Jesus Christ because of all He has done for us, and we can't wait to see Him. Our anticipation of Christ motivates us to live in a way that pleases Him.
The longer you walk with the Lord as your Savior, the more you long to see Him face to face. This was true of both Simeon and Anna in Luke 2.
Psalm 12 expresses how David felt when he had been abandoned by godly friends. In Psalm 13, David is so alone, he feels he has been abandoned by God Himself. This feeling is prompted by the length of his suffering. Perseverance in a long time of difficulty is perhaps the most trying to our minds and hearts.
David's struggle will feel familiar to many people of God. In a marathon of trust, we often ask similar questions. Is God one who abandons? Through David's wrestling, we will learn that God's character and work confessed in prayer sustains us during long, drawn-out periods of suffering.
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