Job 41-42

Knowing God Vs. knowing about God

“I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. Job 42:5 NLT

This is it. The end of the story of Job. He has suffered much – at the hands of Satan, but also as a result of the words of his friends. But as the book comes to an end, we find Job with his fortunes, family, fellowship, and future restored. God has spoken and condemned Eliphaz and his friends as having spoken our of turn. In fact, God tells them, ” you have not been right in what you said about me” (Job 42:7 NLT). He commands them to offer burnt offerings for their sin and to have Job pray for them. If they don’t, God would be forced to deal with them according to their folly.

But the most important part of the story of Job seems to be what he learns about his God. After all is said and done, and God has spoken, Job responds:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand–from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry–forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” – Job 42:2-6 MSG

Up until this point, Job’s understanding of God was based on what he had heard about God. His was an academic, intellectual understanding of God. And it showed up in his diatribes against God. But now that He had met God face to face, he realized that he was wrong. He confessed, “I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me” (Job 42:3 NLT). He had not had a personal, experiential knowledge of God, but a disconnected, distant, and purely academic understanding. As a result, he spoke of what he did not know. But now, he truly knew God. He had experienced God. He had heard from God. And it changed his view of God.

And isn’t that what God is always trying to do – reveal Himself to men? He wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. He wants us to experience Him – in all His power, mercy, grace, and love. That is why He sent His Son – as a living revelation of God on earth in the form of a man. In Jesus, we see the character of God come alive – up close and personal. “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body” (Colossians 2:9 NLT). “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (Colossians 1:19 NLT).

God wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. Yet, for too many of us, our knowledge of God is what we have heard, read, or assumed. Our understanding of God is limited to what we have been taught or told. It lacks the personal, experiential touch. Our God ends up being distant and, at times, a little difficult to know. But God wants us to know Him. He wants us to see Him in our everyday life. Over in Psalm 46:10, He tells the Psalmist, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10 NET). That word “recognize” means to know, realize, see, find out, discern, or to know by experience. God wants us to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He truly is who He says He is. He wants us to know by experience that He is God. It is in the daily experiences of life that God wants to reveal Himself. In our trials and difficulties. In those impossible situations that come our way. In our relationships, finances, health, homes, workplaces, and the moments of doubt and fear. Job didn’t come to know God because God blessed him. That didn’t take place until later. Job came to know God when he actually heard from God. God spoke to Him. God revealed the truth about Himself. He gave Job a glimpse of His power and majesty by comparing Himself to His own creation. The interesting thing is, He never gave Job an explanation of what had happened. He never defended Himself to Job. He didn’t have to. He was God. He simply reminded Job who it was he was complaining to. He reminded Job of His power and sovereign will. God doesn’t owe us an explanation, but we owe Him our reverence and respect. He doesn’t have to defend or explain Himself to us. He simply reveals Himself to us in His Word and through His Son. That’s enough. And as a result, like Job, we should say, “I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me” (Job 42:3 NLT).

Father, You are too wonderful. You are too much for my small brain to understand. Yet You reveal Yourself to me every day through Your Word. I can learn about You and I can experience You in my daily life. I can see You at work, if I just stop striving long enough to catch a glimpse of You. Thank You for showing Yourself to me in my circumstances. Give me an increasing ability to see You more and more clearly with each passing day. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 38-40

Don’t criticize what you don’t understand

“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers? Job 40:2 NLT

God finally speaks. Job has heard from his three friends and Elihu, the young, arrogant upstart. But now he hears from the only one who matters. God Himself. And God’s response if full of not-so-subtle sarcasm. Over and over again He questions Job. He starts out His response to Job by saying, “Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them” (Job 38:3 NLT). God tells Job to brace himself like a man because He has a few questions for him. “Who are you…?” “Where were you when…” “Have you ever…?” “Can you…?” “Do you know…?”

At one point, God’s sarcasm comes out. He says, “But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!” (Job 38:21 NLT). God is questioning Job’s right to question Him. Who is Job, a mere man, to question the intentions of a holy, righteous, powerful, world-creating God? Job can’t answer a single one of God’s questions and he knows it. When given a chance to respond, all he can say is, “I am nothing––how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say” (Job 40:4-5 NLT). Good answer, Job! You’re learning. The moment Job has been waiting for has finally come. His chance to defend himself before God. And all he can do is put his hand over his mouth. He knows he has nothing to say in response to God Almighty.

Once again, God commands Job to gut it up and prepare himself to answer a few questions. And the first one is, “Are you going to discredit my justice and condemn me so you can say you are right?” (Job 40:8 NLT). God seems to be accusing Job of doing the same thing his friends had done to him. In his effort to defend his innocence, he had overextended his understanding of what his suffering was all about. He knew it wasn’t about something he had done wrong, so that left him to make false assumptions about the justice of God. He questioned God’s goodness and righteousness. Job’s perception was limited. His understanding was incomplete. He could not understand all that was going on behind the scenes. He was jumping to conclusions based on circumstances just like his friends had done. And God makes it perfectly clear that Job is just a man.

All right then, put on your robes of state, your majesty and splendor. Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; walk on the wicked where they stand. Bury them in the dust. Imprison them in the world of the dead. Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.  – Job 40:10-14 NLT

Job is NOT God. That seems to be God’s main point. Job is just a man. So am I. And I need to remember that. I don’t have the strength, power, majesty, holiness, wisdom, judgment, or justice of God. If I did, I could save myself. But the sad thing is, I live as if I do have all those things and I DO try to save myself on a regular basis. But it never works. Because I AM NOT GOD! There is only one God and I will never understand or fully comprehend Him. I do not know His ways. I cannot explain His actions. I have no way of understanding why He does what He does. And He does not have to explain Himself to me. God seems to be trying to get Job to understand who it is he is talking to. God doesn’t necessarily condemn Job for his words, but He does blast him for making wrong assumptions about Him based on ignorance or arrogance. Before we condemn God, we should take some time to remind ourselves just who it is we are condemning. He can handle our questions, but He wants us to bring them to Him in fear and respect. We do not have a peer-to-peer relationship with God. We are not His equals. Just because we can come into His presence, does not mean we can do so flippantly or cavalierly. He is still God. And He still deserves our honor and respect.

Father, too often I come to you in anger, demanding answers. I forget just who it is I am talking to. But the amazing thing is, You don’t just blow me away. You actually listen to me. But You do want me to treat You with the dignity and honor You deserve. Forgive me for my disrespect. You are God and I am just a man. I don’t understand Your ways. I can’t see what You see. I can’t comprehend what You are doing behind the scenes. But I can know that You are powerful, mighty, just, righteous, and always in control. Let me place my hand over my mouth before I would ever try to answer You without stopping first to remember just who You are. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 36-37

The wisest thing you’ve said so far

“Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit. Job 37:24 ESV

OK, I’ve officially had enough of Elihu. He is a highly eloquent, but loquacious young man who just doesn’t know when to shut up. While he has a lot of wonderful things to say about God in these two chapters, he still will not relent in his attacks on Job. He accuses Job of wickedness and assures him that he is suffering at the hand of God for his sinful actions. He tells Job to repent of his sins and all will go well with him. “If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant” (Job 36:11 NLT). Elihu’s is a simple and simplistic view of God. He keeps talking about the majesty and incomprehensibility of God, yet he seems to have God boxed in and figured out. He alone knows the ways of God. He even brags that he speaks on behalf of God. “Be patient with me a little longer and I will instruct you, for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf” (Job 36:2 NET). He even brags that his wisdom is perfect and complete. “For in truth, my words are not false; it is one complete in knowledge who is with you” (Job 36:4 NET). But the wisest and most accurate thing Elihu says is found in the last thing he says. “Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit” (Job 37:24 ESV).

If only Elihu would listen to his own counsel. Here is a young man who is wise in his own conceit. Not only does he have Job figured out, he has a handle on God as well. For all his spouting about God’s majesty and power, his god is really a small, petty, vengeful and reactionary god. But his god is not the God of the Bible. He doesn’t know or understand the ways of God. None of us do. Just about the time we think we have Him figured out, He surprises us. We will never know His ways. We can never predict His actions. But we can rest assured in His character. He is a loving God. He is a holy God. He is a righteous God. He is a God of judgment. But He is also a God of mercy. Where we get into trouble is when we start trying to determine what He is doing in the world or in the lives of those we know. We can jump to wrong conclusions and assume things like the earthquakes in Haiti or Chile were to punish them for their sins. We don’t know that. We can’t assume that. We cannot claim that. Because we do NOT know. Rather than try to figure out the why, we need to ask God what and how. What does He want us to do about it? How does He want us to react to it? We know God has a purpose. We know He has a plan. Our job is not to try and figure out the cause of what has happened, but to reach out in love and compassion to those who are caught in the midst of it.

I have no problem with Job’s friends pointing out that Job MIGHT have sinned and that his suffering is a result of that sin. But once Job denied it, they needed to move on and help Job seek God in the midst of it all. They needed to point Job back to God and keep him focused on the mercy and love of God. We need to do the same with those in our lives. We need to do the same with ourselves as we go through difficult times. Instead of looking for the reason behind what we are going through, we need to look for the God who is ultimately in charge of all that goes on in the world. We need to ask Him to examine our hearts, expose anything that needs exposing, but more importantly, open our eyes so that we might better see Him.

Father, help us to look for you in any and all circumstances. Not as our judge or executioner, but as a loving Father who has nothing but our best interest at heart. Help us to focus on You and not the circumstance. Help us to see You instead of searching for explanations. May we learn to be true friends and godly counselors to those you bring in our paths. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 34-35

It is a tale … full of sound and fury; signifying nothing

“Job is an ignoramus. He talks utter nonsense. Job, you need to be pushed to the wall and called to account for wickedly talking back to God the way you have. Job 35:35-36 MSG

Elihu is a bag of wind. He loves to hear himself talk. He is in love with the sound of his own voice. He goes on and on, spouting his words of wisdom, but never really saying anything of substance. Amazingly, he accuses Job of talking utter nonsense. He claims that Job speaks without knowledge or insight, and he opens his mouth in empty talk. But in reality, Elihu is the one who is saying much without saying anything. He is so convinced he is right that he even gets vindictive and hateful toward Job, wishing him harm and not good.

I think we all could learn a lot from Elihu, not so much from what he says, but how he says it. In his pride and arrogance, this young man cares more about being right than being showing love to someone who is hurting. He takes it upon himself to defend God, when God needs no defense. He speaks for God when he has no clue what God is doing or thinking. But I can do the same thing. It is too easy to jump to conclusions regarding situations and circumstances, and make determinations that are neither correct or corrective. We judge too quickly and condemn too easily. Sometimes our declarations of guilt have less to do with the facts than wishful thinking. I have no doubt that there were those who took a perverse sort of pleasure in Job’s demise. They had watched him prosper and succeed, all the while harboring jealous feelings toward him. Now that he had taken a tumble, it was easy to dog-pile Job and relish in his apparent sinfulness. They say if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s probably exactly what Job’s friends were thinking about him. And sometimes we can harbor the same feelings towards those in our sphere of influence who we have watched suddenly fall from grace. Sure, we tell them we are praying for them, while all the while finding their demise somewhat enjoyable. We find pleasure in helping point out their apparent sin. We want to expose their failings. We want to remind them that they are far from perfect. All because if we can find fault in others, it usually makes us feel better about ourselves.

But what Job needed was encouragement. He needed reassurance and comfort. He needed to know that God loved him and had not abandoned him. He needed the calming presence of friends, not the harsh criticism of fair-weather friends. So when we encounter friends who are going through difficult times, will we offer them a tale … full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Or will we offer them our unconditional love and unwavering support?

Father, it’s easy for me to condemn Elihu, but it’s also easy for me to be just like him. Open my eyes and help me see any similarities and confess them to you. Silence really is golden. There are times when saying nothing can speak volumes. Give me the wisdom and discernment to know when to speak up and when to shut up. But whenever anyone I know is going through difficulty, always help me to show up. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 32-33

When know-it-alls tell it all

“It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. Job 32:9-10 NIV

Someone once asked the question, “Why does youth have to be wasted on the young?” This somewhat sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek statement, made by an obviously older person, reflects an understanding about the abundance of energy and vitality that come with youth, but the wisdom that often seems to be lacking. In today’s reading in chapters 32 and 33 of Job, we get an up-close-and-personal glimpse into just what this looks like in the life of Elihu. This young man, full of vitality and energy, has been biding his time and biting his tongue, waiting for a chance to speak his mind. And once he opens his mouth, what comes out is not exactly flattering. Like Job’s three other friends, Elihu is well-intentioned but poorly informed. He is so ready to share his wisdom with Job, he is about to explode. “I am like a wine cask without a vent. My words are ready to burst out! I must speak to find relief, so let me give my answers: (Job 32:19-20 NLT). Elihu is like a volcano ready to explode. That should have been his first sign to take a deep breath and keep his words to himself. It reminds me of the warning of James: “My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19 NLT). The Proverbs have a lot to say about choosing our words carefully and using them sparingly: “When words abound, transgression is inevitable, but the one who restrains his words is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 NET). “The truly wise person restrains his words, and the one who stays calm is discerning” (Proverbs 17:27 NET).

Elihu seems to have had a problem with restraint. He also suffered from a bad case of ego. I am amazed at how often he speaks of himself. His use of the personal pronoun has got to be an Olympic record. I lost track after 40. Elihu comes across as an arrogant and prideful young man who appears short on discernment. He has a lot of the characteristics of the fool described in the Proverbs:

The wise person accepts instructions, but the one who speaks foolishness will come to ruin. – Proverbs 10:8 NET

Those who are wise store up knowledge, but foolish speech leads to imminent destruction. – Proverbs 10:14 NET

The teaching of the righteous feeds many, but fools die for lack of wisdom. – Proverbs 10:21 NET

Elihu seems to think that because he was made by God, he was qualified to speak for God. “I speak with all sincerity; I speak the truth. For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:3-4 NLT). That is a dangerous assumption for anyone to make. I can speak sincerely, but be sincerely wrong. I can speak what I think is the truth, but be flatly false in both my conclusions and my words.

Elihu’s pride are painfully apparent in the closing verses of chapter 33: “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Keep silent, and let me speak. Then if you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom” (Job 33:31-33 NASB). WOW! The boldness of Elihu is amazing. I get embarrassed for him just reading his words. They come across as so pompous and arrogant it’s almost unbelievable. But then I have to think how many times I have probably come across the same way. Even in my “advanced” years. Elihu was right in one respect, wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. It comes from God. And it begins with a fear of God. “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7 NLT). As I grow in my knowledge of God, I will grow in wisdom and discernment. I will increase in knowledge as well as discretion. I will seek to be wise, but not just in my own eyes. I will seek to be righteous, not just right. I will learn what it means to speak words of comfort, not just correction. I will have the heart of God, not just the words of God.

Father, before I attempt to speak for You, let me get to know You better. Help me bridle my tongue and limit my speech unless I know I have heard from You. Don’t let me assume I have the answers just because I have Your Spirit living within me. I know how easy it is to let my pride take precedence. I can speak my own words and fool myself into believing they are from You. And I end up doing more harm than good. So keep a watch over my mouth. Help me be quick to listen and slow to speak. And when I do speak, may I speak for you but because of You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 30-31

What if?

“Isn’t God looking, observing how I live? Doesn’t he mark every step I take? Job 31:4 MSG

What if I were in Job’s shoes? What if I found myself in a similar situation? Could I respond the way Job did? Would I be able to claim my innocence with unwavering confidence? No, I would probably be able to come to come up with more than a handful of reasons for why I was going through what I was going through. I could find plenty of things for which I was guilty and deserving of some kind of punishment. But not Job. Just take a look at his speech in chapter 31. Job continues to claim his innocence, and he does it by giving a list of possible options for sins that might result in the kind of suffering he is enduring.

If I have stolen…

If I have coveted…

If I have lusted…

If I have taken advantage of…

If I have been selfish and unmerciful…

If I have not been generous…

If I have showed no compassion…

If I have abused the defenseless…

If I have been greedy…

If I have made prosperity my god…

If I have enjoyed watching others fail…

If I have not shared with those in need…

If I have tried to hid my sins…

If Job had done any of these things, he would have understood why he was suffering. But he stood before God and men as innocent. Could I say the same thing? No, I’m afraid not. I would be guilty. In fact, I would never have played the “What if” game that Job played. Too dangerous. Too risky. Too condemning. I have done all of those things and more. I know it and God knows it. Because, just as Job stated in his rhetorical question at the beginning of his little speech, “Isn’t God looking, observing how I live? Doesn’t he mark every step I take?” (Job 31:4 MSG). God knew every detail of Job’s life and He knows every detail of my life. But what is amazing for us as believers is that we get to stand before God as righteous – justified and pure – all because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. God looks at me through the blood of His Son and sees me as righteousness. I have had Christ’s righteousness imputed to my account. He sees me as guiltless and therefore, He does not condemn me. I am positionally righteous. But we both know I still sin. Which is why I am called to become progressively righteous. Paul commands us to “lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God” (Ephesians 4:1 NLT). In Colossians he tells us, “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, [act] like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ–that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your [real] life–even though invisible to spectators–is with Christ in God. [He] is your life” (Colossians 3:1-3 MSG).

Yes, God is watching us. But He is also indwelling us and empowering us. He is providing us with all we need to live the life of righteousness to which we have been called. Peter reminds us, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received!” (2 Peter 31:3 MSG). We have all we need to live a life of righteousness. And even when we fail and fall, which we will, we have the right to bring our sins before the throne of God and confess them. And “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9 NLT). So in actuality we can stand before God just as Job did and say, “If I…” The key is confession and repentance. Our sins have been paid for in full on the cross. There is no more punishment for sin. We confess our sins not so we can incur God’s wrath and judgment, but so that He can cleanse us and make us more into the likeness of His Son. He progressively makes us more righteous. Over in 1 Peter 1:16, we are told by God to “Be holy, because I am holy.” God is not telling us to become something new. He is not telling us to change who we are. He is telling us to become what we already are – holy, set apart, and uniquely His. Peter tells us, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:10 NIV). We are to live like what we are. We have the power within us to change everything about us. So that we can actually stand before God and say, “If I…”

Father, thank You for the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit. If I did not have Him living in me I would have no hope. I would be sin-riddled and guilty as charged – with no hope for ever standing before You as righteous. But because of what Jesus did on the cross, I have a new power within me that allows me to recognize my sin and then confess it to You so that You can cleanse me from it. So as I confess those sins, I can stand before You as Job did and claim my innocence. That is amazing! Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 28-29

An “I” Exam

“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? Job 28:21 NLT

Chapters 28 and 29 are an interesting contrast. Both are the words of Job, but they reflect two extremely different views or outlooks. In chapter 28, Job asks and answers the question, “Do people know where to find wisdom?” We may be able to mine precious metals from the depths of the earth, but we don’t have the foggiest idea where to find wisdom. It eludes us and remains a mystery to us no matter how hard we search for it. But “God surely knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding'” (Job 28:23-28 NLT). God knows where wisdom can be found, because He is its source. And when we begin fear of Him is when we will find wisdom. Solomon put it this way: “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1;& NLT). The problem that Job and his friends faced was a lack of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of the ways of God. None of them truly understood what was going on. They could only guess as to what was the cause of Jobs distress. Job’s friends blamed it on some hidden sin in his life. Job blamed it on God’s abandonment of him. But they lacked wisdom. Job seemed to know that, which is what is reflected in his speech in chapter 28. He seemed to know that the fear of God is where he would find wisdom.

But then there’s chapter 29. In this speech Job suddenly reflects a perspective that many of us have. He took his eyes off of God and focused on himself. Depending on the translation you are reading, there are upwards of 40 uses of the personal pronouns “I,” “me,” or “my” in the speech. Job develops a serious “I” problem. He can’t keep his eyes off of himself and his problem. He dwells on the past. He focuses on the way things were. He recalls how good he used to have it. He sort of brags about all his accomplishments. He longs for things to go back to the way they were. Now, I don’t particularly blame him, but he seems to lose his fear of the Lord. Like his friends, he starts to make some unwise conclusions. His speech wrongly infers that God is no longer watching over him. He seems to believe that God is no longer his friend and that God is no longer with him. All based on his circumstances. He still maintains his innocence, but he blames his condition on God because He had abandoned him.

Job wanted his honor back. He wanted to be respected once again. He wanted to be remembered for all the good he used to do. He missed the respect he used to garner for all his good deeds and acts of kindness. There’s no doubt that Job had lost a lot. And I don’t blame him for wanting things to be the way they used to be. But when he turned his attention to himself, he lost his focus on God. Reminiscing was not going to change anything and it was not going to provide him with any answers to his questions or comfort for his pain. That would only come as he turned his attention to God. He alone had he answers Job was looking for. He alone could provide the comfort Job was seeking. Whenever we get myopic and focus on ourselves, we lose sight of God. Turn to Him. Fear Him. Seek Him. “For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy” (Proverbs 2:6-10 NLT).

Father, I want and need wisdom. But I tend to seek it in all the wrong places. I look to myself and I look to others. Instead I need to seek it in You. I need to fear You. Not in a timid, cowering way, but out of awe, reverence and respect for Your power, majesty, and holiness. Rather than question You, I need to learn to trust You. Rather than whine and moan at You, I need to learn to thank You for the fact that You are in control of my life and my future. Help me get my focus off of me and put it on You. Because You alone grant wisdom. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 26-27

Too vast to grasp

“See, these are only the outskirts of his ways; and how small is that which comes to our ears about him! But the thunder of his acts of power is outside all knowledge. Job 26:14 BBE

God knows things we don’t know. His knowledge is far beyond anything we can comprehend. Just take a look at some of the Hubble Telescope images of the universe and the scope and size of God’s knowledge starts to become clear. Job seemed to know that without having ever seen what we have seen.

By his hand the north is stretched out in space, and the earth is hanging on nothing. By him the waters are shut up in his thick clouds, and the cloud does not give way under them. By him the face of his high seat is veiled, and his cloud stretched out over it. By him a circle is marked out on the face of the waters, to the limits of the light and the dark. – Job 26:7-10 BBE

Job tells his friends that while they seem to be speaking for God, they have no clue what God knows. They are presumptuous to think that they have figured out the ways of God. They make assumptions about Job’s guilt as if they know for sure what has taken place. But they don’t know. Only God does. We can’t understand the ways of God. Our understanding is limited. We can’t fully comprehend or explain what God does or why He does it. And He does not explain Himself to us. For Job, all he could rest on was his integrity. He stood firm on his innocence. “Let it be far from me! I will certainly not say that you are right! I will come to death before I give up my righteousness. I will keep it safe, and will not let it go: my heart has nothing to say against any part of my life” (Job 27:5-6 BBE). Job didn’t understand why he was suffering. He couldn’t explain it. All he knew was that he had done nothing wrong to deserve it. At the end of the day, all we can know about God is what He chooses to reveal about Himself to us. We see His aspects of His power and creativity in nature and within the world around us, but we can’t fully comprehend how it all works. We can look into the design of the human cell and appreciate its intricacy and complexity, but we can’t explain how God made it. There is so much about God that we don’t understand. But we do know that He is powerful. We do know that He is loving. We do know that He is sovereign, and righteous, and just, and always watching. Job knew these things and he rested in them. Knowing these things did not stop his pain or eliminate his suffering, but it gave him some sense of hope in the midst of it all. Job’s approach to his situation is similar to that of the Psalmist.

I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.” But as I stood there in silence — not even speaking of good things — the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words: “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” – Psalms 39:1-7 NLT

My only hope is in You. Is God where you put your hope? Is He the first place you turn to in times of trouble? There is much about life we will never understand, but we can know that God is faithful, just, righteous, merciful, powerful, and completely in control of any and all circumstances. We can trust Him.

Father, I want to trust You, but I struggle so often with wanting to understand first. I want to have everything explained to me, THEN I’ll trust You. But You don’t explain Yourself to me. You don’t justify Your actions to me. Part of trusting You is learning to rely on You even thought I don’t understand You. You’ve never proven Yourself untrustworthy Lord. So I’m not sure why I struggle so much with trust. But thank You for your patience. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 24-25

Life is not fair

“From the city the dying groan, and the wounded cry out for help, but God charges no one with wrongdoing. Job 24:9-12 NET

The world we live in is anything but fair. Every day, people suffer injustices of all kinds. Children are born into families where they are unloved and abused. The powerful take advantage of the weak and defenseless. Corrupt governments deny the rights of their citizens. Individuals harm one another. People who have worked all their lives and saved to provide themselves with a decent retirement income, lose it all as the result of unethical corporate executives and greedy lenders. The same was true in Job’s day. In spite of his friends’ assertions that the wicked always face justice at the hand of God, Job argues that this isn’t necessarily so. Plenty of people in Job’s day seemed to walk away without a scratch in spite of their unethical and immoral behavior. “There are people out there getting by with murder–stealing and lying and cheating. They rip off the poor and exploit the unfortunate, push the helpless into the ditch, bully the weak so that they fear for their lives. The poor, like stray dogs and cats, scavenge for food in back alleys. They sort through the garbage of the rich, eke out survival on handouts. Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street; they’ve no place to lay their heads” (Job 24:2-7 MSG). This is reality. This is life in a fallen world.

It was true in Job’s day and it is true in ours. Job asks the obvious question: “Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?” (Job 24:1 NLT). There are times we ask the same question. Why doesn’t God step in and do something. When we read news stories of abuse, neglect, corruption, murder, hatred and bigotry, we want to know where God is and why He isn’t doing something about it all. The truth is that the wicked don’t always suffer. Sometimes they actually get away with their actions and profit from their behavior. The innocent suffer while the wicked prosper. It happens all the time. We don’t like it. And we can’t explain it. And the fact is, God doesn’t seem to feel obligated to provide us with an explanation. But Job finds comfort in knowing that in the end, God will deal with all those who practice ungodliness. “But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life. He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like ears of corn” (Job 24:22-24 NIV). His eyes are on their ways. He is watching them. He is not asleep or indifferent. God has His eye on them. And He will act – in His own good time. In the meantime, the righteous will suffer and the wicked will prosper. Christians will face persecution and even death at the hands of malicious governments. Innocent women and children will be sold into slavery or used to feed the insatiable desires of the world’s burgeoning sex trade. It’s unfair. It’s immoral. It’s offensive and reprehensible. But it does not mean God is out of control or lacking in interest. He is fully aware of what is going on. And one day, He will act. We can rest assured.

“But GOD hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood inside and out, not missing a thing. He tests the good and the bad alike; if anyone cheats, God’s outraged. Fail the test and you’re out, out in a hail of firestones, drinking from a canteen filled with hot desert wind. GOD’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye” (Psalm 11:4-7 MSG).

Father, You see all. And You are just. One day You will make all things right. Give us patience to wait for Your perfect timing. In the meantime help us to be salt and light in the midst of a dark world. May we bring refreshment and hope to the thirsty and the hopeless. Life is not fair, but our God is just, righteous, and He will act. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Job 22-23

He sees me

“I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent. For I have stayed in God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. Job 23:9-11 NLT

Let’s face it. We can’t always understand what God is doing. His ways are sometimes mysterious and even frustrating. Like Job, we look for Him, but can’t seem to find Him anywhere. It is as if He is hidden from our sight. But Job makes a profound statement that should bring us assurance and comfort: “He knows where I am going.” One commentator says that this phrase could be translated, “He knows where to look for me.” Either way, it reveals the idea that God knows exactly what is going on in my life. He hasn’t lost sight of me for one moment. He doesn’t get distracted and turn His back on me, only to turn around and find Himself shocked at some unexpected change in my circumstances. No, God knows right where I am. In fact, He knows right where I’m going. He has a plan for my life and that plan includes what I am going through at the moment – even if it is something I don’t particularly enjoy or understand.

Job continues to claim his innocence. He declares that he has remained faithful to God and has treasured His words. But then Job states, “Nevertheless, his mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn him from his purposes? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny” (Job 23:13-14 NLT). Job seems to understand that this is not all about his guilt or innocence. It is about the sovereign will of God for his life. God controls his destiny. What He has set out to do, He will do. Nothing Job does will change that. You can detect a little frustration in Job’s statement, and I don’t blame him. I have been there more often than I would care to admit. I have found myself frustrated by God’s plan for my life. Like Job, I know God is in control, and so I get frustrated that He can’t come up with a better scenario for my life than the one He has chosen. Sure, I know I contribute to my own problems by bad decisions and outright sin, but sometimes it just seems like things get all screwed up and I didn’t particularly do anything to “deserve” it. But that’s when I have to remind myself that God’s ways are perfect. And His love for me is perfect. He has my best in store for me. I am His child. He is my Father. And I can trust Him.

There are going to be days of darkness. Difficulties will come. Job knew that. In fact, he was in the middle of it. “Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere” (Job 23:17 NLT). He couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. He couldn’t see his God either. But he knew that God was in control. That was his hope in the midst of his hopelessness. And it should be ours as well. Our God is both powerful and merciful. And He sees us. Not only that, He loves us, and we are safely in His plan for us – no matter how the circumstances may appear.

Father, Your plan for me is perfect, but sometimes it is so hard to see, let alone understand. I feel like you are not there sometimes. I feel like I can’t find you. But You remind me that You can always see me. You never take Your eyes off of me. You hold me in the palm of Your hand. You love me and are looking out for me. Help me see You in the midst of my trials. Help me trust You in the middle of my scariest moments. I know you don’t have to explain Your ways to me, but help me to trust them. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men