Job 7

“When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn” (v4). Job described the way our troubles become magnified at night. Instead of resting after a distressing day, we often feel worse, tossing and turning or suffering from nightmares (v13-14). We lose hope, lose perspective, and can’t imagine that light will break into our darkness (v18-21). But God is still there.

“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him …?” (v17). Even when we feel alone, we can trust that God has “set His heart” on us, and His light is greater than the darkness.

Job 6

“What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?” (v11). Job felt like his strength was already gone, and yet he didn’t see the end of his troubles. He wanted to lean on his friends, but they had nothing to offer: “you see my calamity and are afraid” (v21). Job’s situation confounded their simplistic view of good deeds producing a good life. Therefore, they avoided dealing directly with him (v28-29). Job felt abandoned.

“Have I any help in me …?” (v13). Our own resources are limited, and our friends are only human. But we know “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

Job 5

“As for me, I would seek God …” (8). Eliphaz urged Job to seek God, thinking that Job was surely being disciplined for sin (v17-18). Like everyone else, Eliphaz believed that those who followed God would be free from trouble (v19-20); therefore, Job’s disasters were evidence of Job’s own mistakes. However, Eliphaz was missing a huge part of the equation: the hidden context in which God had already declared His approval for his faithful friend, Job (ch 1). Job’s troubles were certainly not the result of personal sin.

“God …who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things …” (v9). God’s “unsearchable” things include using the difficult events of our lives to draw us closer to Him.

Job 4

“Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands … But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed” (v3-5). Seeing Job’s disasters and total misery, Job’s friend Eliphaz declared that after comforting others during their troubles, now “it’s your turn.” What Job knew second-hand, through others, now he experiences first-hand. Though Eliphaz doubts Job’s strength, Job displays an honest, stubborn faith – one that includes questions and anger and defies expectations.

“Is not your fear of God your confidence?” (v6). God’s unchanging love is our confidence, not only when things go well, but also when our world turns upside-down.

I Corinthians 11:16-34

“When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk” (v20-21). Jesus had given His followers the sacred tradition of communion - eating and drinking together to remember His death, resurrection, and return (v23-26). However, the Corinthians weren’t sharing their food and drink in a reverent way, but instead indulging themselves, ignoring those with less to eat, and even getting drunk. Their behavior needed self-correction (v27-31) to avoid real judgment.

“I hear that there are divisions among you …” (v18). Divisions and in-fighting within the Body of Christ undermine the radical unity we share because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

I Corinthians 11:1-15

“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman” (v11-12). Within this Christian context of interdependence, men and women together in the Lord, Paul was concerned that some people were not showing proper respect for the marriage relationship (husbands being “head” over their wives, v3) during worship, and this was distracting. Women had amazing freedom in church – they were prophesying, v5 – yet order and respect were important as well.

“All things are from God” (v12). Rather than being controversial or self-focused, our worship should direct attention to our Savior and Lord.

Psalm 106

“Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, … did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (v7-8). The Israelites weren’t worshipping the God of Abraham when they were slaves in Egypt, yet God miraculously delivered them anyway. He guided them through the desert, though they “murmured in their tents and did not obey the voice of the Lord” (v25). He wanted them to trust Him as Savior (v21)

God loves us and forgives us not because we live up to His expectations, but “according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (v45).

Job 3

“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (v1). As bad as this sounds, Job was simply expressing his despair. He questioned the point of his own life, but he did not do what his wife recommended: “Curse God” (2:9). Job’s integrity meant that he could honestly question everything, express anger, and even regret his own birth, but he did not walk away from God. Job took his grief straight to the only One who did understand.

“I am not at ease, nor am I quiet …” (v26). We don’t have to be quiet in the face of grief or trouble. We can take our emotions and our questions to the One who loves us.

Job 2

“Have you considered my servant Job …?” (v3). The strange conversation between God and Satan in the book of Job reveals something surprising: God has great confidence in His servant, Job. Satan thinks that Job’s faith is shallow, based on personal success, and that a severe testing will expose Job’s self-centeredness. But God sees Job’s heart, and He has no doubt that trials and testing will only “expose” Job’s stubborn integrity (v3). Job looks like a man dependent on his blessings, but God knows the truth.

“A blameless and upright man …” (v3). God wasn’t punishing Job or trying to make him fail. Even when we can’t see the whole picture, we can trust that He is on our side.

Job 1

“The was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job …” (v1). The long, complex book of Job begins with a simple truth: very difficult things can happen to good people. Job “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (v1), yet he lost everything. In his day, wealth and family were viewed as rewards for righteousness, and disaster was interpreted as God (or the gods) punishing evildoers. But Job did nothing wrong and could not control what happened to him.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord” (v21). Like many of us, Job was faced with circumstances he didn’t understand. In the midst of tragedy, he held on to the Lord.

Esther 9-10

“The days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday …” (v22). The Jews celebrate this event as Purim (v26), marking the time when they had nearly been exterminated, but instead, “the reverse occurred” (v1); they were victorious against their enemies. Esther’s story is a picture of how God’s kingdom is “the reverse” from the world; those who use their power for evil, seemingly without consequence, will one day face His justice.

“And no one could stand against them” (v2). By faith we live according to the values of God’s kingdom, because only His rule is eternal.

I Corinthians 10:15-33

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful” (v23). Paul was clear that meat offered to idols wasn’t inherently dangerous; believers could freely buy it in the marketplace (v25). However, they should avoid “participating with demons”: they should not join in with those who were eating the meat to honor idols (v20,28). Believers had “liberty” in terms of their consciences (v29), but they were responsible to act in way that communicated faithfulness to Jesus in the sight of others.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (v31). Rather than prioritizing our own preferences or comfort, we are called to consider God’s glory and the well-being of others.

I Corinthians 10:1-14

“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (v6). Paul used the Israelites that followed Moses in the desert as a severe warning to New Testament believers. Though they ate “spiritual food and drink” and followed “the Rock that was Christ” – they experienced God’s grace and His miraculous provision day by day – they still became idolaters and indulged in sexual immorality (v8). Their “spiritual experiences” were not enough; they did not commit their whole selves to God but instead chased other things.

“Flee from idolatry” (v14). Forgiven by Christ, we are called to reject the temptations of immorality, greed, and pride and instead to live as His holy people.

Psalm 105

“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered” (v5). Israel was supposed to rejoice and keep telling the great things God had done for them. When they were “few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation” (v12), God protected them. He never forgot His promise to Abraham, even when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. He “brought His people out with joy” (v43) for a purpose: “… so that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws” (v45).

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (v4). The God who has already done “wondrous works” still gives us His strength.

Esther 8

“The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor” (v16). The Jews, a minority population from a conquered country, were vulnerable in the Persian Empire; at any time, their rights could be denied, or suspicion cast on them. To protect Esther, Mordecai originally made her keep her identity a secret. Yet God had not abandoned them. Though Haman had arranged for their annihilation, instead, Mordecai received royal robes (v15), and the king gave the Jews the right to defend themselves.

“There was gladness and joy …” (v17). We rejoice that the Messiah’s birth in a stable proclaims the same message: God loves the humble and heals the broken-hearted.

Esther 7

"Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?" (v5). Written like a play, Esther’s story reaches its climax when the evil Haman is exposed before the king. The man at the king’s right hand is revealed to be a cruel, petty, disloyal schemer: “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” (v6). Though set in a palace, the story expresses the longing of ordinary human hearts – that in a world of darkness and confusion, one day, truth will be revealed, evil exposed, and God’s righteousness, in the end, will win.

“It shall be fulfilled” (v2). Like Esther and her people, we wait. We know that the salvation begun in Bethlehem will be completed when our King returns.

Esther 6

"What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" (v6). Esther’s story is full of surprising reversals that highlight the powerlessness of human schemes in the face of God’s justice. Just when Haman is plotting Mordecai’s murder, the king discovers Mordecai’s heroic deed and wants to honor him. Haman, furious and humiliated, must orchestrate Mordecai’s public affirmation ceremony. Everything Haman does to elevate himself and punish Mordecai seems to backfire.

Human power and pride can’t prevail against God’s purposes, as Mary said centuries later: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:52).

Esther 5

“But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai” (v9). Haman’s great power in the Persian kingdom wasn’t enough; he wanted to be better than anyone, especially Mordecai. He bragged about his exclusive invitation: “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared” (v12). His delight in his high status was poisoned by his obsession to get everyone – especially Mordecai – to bow before him.

“Yet all this is worth nothing to me …” (v13). Envy, discontent, and the desire to be better than others make it impossible to genuinely enjoy God’s good gifts to us.

I Corinthians 9:16-27

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (v19). Paul, a Jew, was no longer “under the law” because he knew Christ had fulfilled the law’s requirements for him, and instead he lived “under Christ’s law” (v21). However, in order to win Jews and Gentiles to Christ, he was willing to adapt to both groups so that the gospel could be clearly communicated (v20-21). His own freedom was secondary.

“I do all this for the sake of the gospel” (v23). The amazing good news that reconciled us to God is meant to be shared with everyone, even at the cost of our own comfort.

I Corinthians 9:1-15

“This is my defense to those who would examine me” (v3). Paul was being questioned about his role and his rights as an apostle. He explained that full-time ministers of the gospel could have spouses and would normally receive support from those to whom they were ministering. “The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (v14). This was the precedent set by the priests and Levites, who were supported by Temple offerings (v13). However, Paul himself didn’t use these “rights” (v12,15).

“Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right” (v12). We are free (v1, 19), yet we are often called to lay down our rights so that others can know Christ.