Romans 8:28-30 is a favorite passage for many Christians. Sometimes this can be for sentimental reasons which are not bad in and of themselves. It’s important to distinguish what the passage means to us from what the passage actually says, and to get its meaning right. As humans, we need to hear truth repeatedly.
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.
Sometimes we endure great difficulty, and like Job, we need to come to the realization that when considering God, some things are too wonderful for us to comprehend (Job 42:3), and that the end, or purpose, of the Lord is always mercy and compassion (James 5:11).
Psalm 61 opens with the author, David, not experiencing safety. Different scholars agree that this psalm was written when David was fleeing his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15-17), who not only wanted to overthrow David as king but also desired to kill him. David was far from home and emotionally overwhelmed (Psalm 61:2). This distressing situation was predicted by the prophet Nathan as a consequence to the sin David committed with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11-12). David is fleeing his own son who is now his enemy (Psalm 61:3). Psalm 61 is a hymn about safety, ‘to the choirmaster: with the stringed instruments,’ for the nation of Israel, who would sing this hymn then and later when in captivity. The understanding of safety is something God’s people should enthusiastically and whole-heartedly affirm.
At times, God uses our senses to make His presence known (Psalm 34:8, 1 John 1:1-4). This growth in knowledge of God deepens our relationship with Him. For examples, see Isaiah 6:1-5, Luke 5:8, and 7:6-7. Job has found that theology is only the beginning; it's important, but second to our personal walk with God.
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.
If after a short time of great calamity such as Job experienced – his children killed, his lifestyle and position in the region taken away, and his body suffering like never before – would we be able to say like Job, "Blessed be the name of the Lord"? Could it be said of us that we did not sin with our lips? Job experienced supernatural grace in an hour of agony for those two verses to be written about him (Job 1:21, Job 2:10).
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).
Job is a book of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10). Wisdom is not merely knowledge. Wisdom is living the knowledge of God’s will, being able to apply what we know. The genuinely saved person longs to know the will of God and perseveres in living it. Job 1:1 describes Job as blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil, giving us a brief description of the person of Job and his character.
Godly people do suffer, sometimes in extreme ways. If we don’t believe that, it can lead to unbiblical assumptions, doctrine, and applications. It is incorrect to assume that all suffering is punishment for sin, or that God owes us prosperity if we obey. We can correct this thinking by getting to know God’s character.
We will take several weeks to introduce the book of Job.
Did you know that one-third of the Psalms are laments? These honest struggles with difficult circumstances were sung by the congregation of Israel in corporate worship. We don't often pray like that today, especially in a corporate setting. What can we learn from these prayers that were inspired and preserved for us in God's Word?
Why do bad things happen to good people? We know there are no truly good people, but we still wrestle when it seems justice is not being served. We want God to honor people who obey. Jesus addresses this idea of "retribution theology" in today's passage, Luke 13:1-17.
At Christmas time, it is fitting to turn our minds to prophetic truths concerning Jesus the Messiah. The books of the prophets are usually the first to come to mind, and the literal fulfillment of the circumstantial facts they predicted hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ coming is nothing short of miraculous. Another prophetic witness is found in the Messianic Psalms. In total, twenty-five different psalms (one out of six) include at least one Messianic prophecy. Messianic psalms are quoted in eleven New Testament books.
These psalms are prophetic in a special way: in the words and feelings of the Psalmist were found the very words and feelings of the Messiah. (See Hebrews 2:12.) The Psalmist knew that the coming Messiah would “fill out” the emotional and physical suffering he was experiencing by experiencing them in a way he never could. The pain he spoke of figuratively, the Messiah would know literally.
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.
The psalmbook of Israel was divided into 5 sections. Book 5 contains many anonymous psalms and some by David. A common theme of these authors is deriving hope from the guaranteed future for the nation of Israel. Their eschatological message is, "it's going to be okay."
We can receive comfort from others in dark times. This is one of God's good gifts to us. But there is only one place to find soul rest. Jesus is the exclusive source of ultimate comfort.
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.
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