Job 42

“For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (v8). Job’s complaints, questions, and despair didn’t turn God against him; instead, God criticized Job’s three bombastic friends who pretended to know all the answers (v7). The mysterious Elihu (ch 36) isn’t mentioned at all. Job didn’t nobly and quietly endure suffering; he raged and wept, and yet he remained close to the Lord. In the end, he was rewarded by the awesome, personal voice of God Himself.

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you …” (v5). Real comfort comes when we experience the presence of God’s Spirit and know that He loves us.

Job 41

“Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (v11). God explained to Job that even the wild creatures belonged to Him; the things that defied human control were tame for the Lord. "Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?” (v1). Leviathan (either a crocodile, v15, or a fire-breathing dragon, v19) symbolized the chaotic, unsubdued forces of the world. While humans struggled against nature, God declared ownership.

“Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (v11). Nothing is impossible for God, because everything was created by Him and for Him. He is more than able to meet our needs.

Job 40

“Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (v9). Job realized that all his questions were nothing compared to God’s majesty, and he was struck speechless. “I lay my hand upon my mouth … I will proceed no further” (v4-5). Though Job’s life didn’t make sense from a human viewpoint, in God’s presence he realized that the Creator of all had limitless power and an eternal perspective. Job’s life mattered, but he accepted his humble role in God’s kingdom.

“Behold, I am of small account …” (v4). When we recognize God’s awesome creative power, like Job, we find peace. We are significant, but we’re not in charge of the universe.

II Corinthians 4:6-21

“To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands … we have become, and are still, like the scum of the world” (v11-13). Some of the Corinthians’ criticism of Paul and Apollos seems to have been because the apostles were not “successful” in the expected way. They worked hard with their hands and never became wealthy. They were leaders, but the world saw them as “scum.” They were “servants of Christ” (v1) but homeless.

“We are fools for Christ’s sake” (v10). If Jesus is our leader, we can’t always expect to succeed by the world’s standards. Our aim is to hear the Lord’s “well done” (v5).

II Corinthians 4:1-5

“Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (v5). Some of the believers in Corinth were apparently criticizing Paul and other leaders (v3). Paul didn’t just defend himself; he also admonished them to be careful – the surface truth doesn’t always reveal “the purposes of the heart.” Paul didn’t worry about human judgments because he trusted the Lord to know the truth.

“Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (v5). God sees what others cannot: our motives, our prayers, and our quiet faithfulness.

Psalm 115

“O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield” (v9). The psalmist said that, eventually, we resemble the object of our worship. Those who worship idols that can’t speak, hear, or respond – ancient idols, or the modern idols of wealth, appearance, status, and sexuality - gradually lose their own humanity. “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (v8). Instead, God is active and powerful and personal, our help and shield.

When we turn from idols and trust in the Lord who is full of “steadfast love and faithfulness,” we become more like Him (v10).

Proverbs 22

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (v1). While the world offers us short-term profit and beautiful false images, the proverbs teach us about the unglamorous, slow, day-by-day process of building a “good name” and a solid life. Just like training a child takes time, the daily faithfulness of following God’s ways in our relationships and our work leads to abundant life (v4,6). He warns us against greed, lust, and anger so that we don’t get “entangled in snares” (v25).

“That your trust may be in the Lord” (v19). Even when we stumble, we can trust that God forgives and leads us to the path of life.

Job 39

"Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?” (v26-27). Job worried that his sufferings were a terrible mistake, that perhaps God had miscalculated Job’s life. God’s answer was to show Job all the intricate, delicate, powerful mechanisms of life on earth. We work hard to grasp the edge of knowledge about plants, animals, stars, and all creation, but God delights in every detail.

We can’t control the universe, and the circumstances of our lives, like Job’s, are often beyond our control. Yet we can trust the Lord’s knowledge, power, and good purposes for us.

Job 38

"Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (v12). Job had searched for God, and now God bursts onto the scene, speaking “out of the whirlwind” (v1). Rather than directly answering Job’s questions about suffering, God points out all the wonders of creation that are safely in His hands. The secrets of the morning stars, the rain and hail, the depths of the oceans, the lions and ravens, even the gates of death itself are completely within God’s command (v17).

Elihu thought that God couldn’t be found (37:23), yet God revealed Himself to Job. The Creator of everything cares about our troubles enough to come to us.

Job 37

“God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend” (v5). When Job’s friend Elihu finished speculating about Job’s sins and instead focused on God’s majesty, his speeches began to truly honor the Creator. He tells Job to “stop and consider the wondrous works of God” (v14), things like commanding the snow and ice and all His creatures. Elihu’s point is that we can’t do the things that God can do, and therefore we shouldn’t question Him (v15-19).

“Justice and abundant righteousness He will not violate” (v23). God is perfect, yet He invites us, like Job, to bring our struggles and questions into His presence.

II Corinthians 3:6-18

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold …” (v12). When Moses came down from the mountain with the ten commandments written on stone tablets, his face shone with “glory,” yet that glory faded. Paul said that if the old covenant had such glory, the new “ministry of righteousness” based on Jesus must far exceed it (v9). That old covenant is over, and our hope is in the new, permanent relationship we have with God through Jesus (v10-11).

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” (v17). We have freedom and confidence to approach God “with unveiled faces” because Jesus has made us holy (v18).

II Corinthians 3:1-5

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (v2-3). Paul didn’t need an official “letter of recommendation” authorizing him to be a minister of the gospel. The Corinthian believers were the proof that the message about Jesus, delivered by Paul, had power to change lives. This “new covenant” (v6) didn’t have a capital city or stone tablets; it was based on the living Jesus present in peoples’ hearts.

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God” (v4). Our confidence is based on the reality of Christ in us, His Spirit bringing new life.

Psalm 114

“When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion” (v1-2). When God rescued His people from Egypt, the psalmist said, He demonstrated the power that makes the whole world tremble (v7). The Creator of the universe had mercy on the Israelites, who were slaves in Egypt; He redeemed them and chose to live among them. When God comes to earth, says the psalmist, the sea and mountains are moved.

He “turns the rock into a pool of water” (v8). The same God who rescued Israel and provided water in the desert still rescues, redeems, and miraculously provides for us.

Job 36

“If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness” (v11). It’s tempting to believe, like Elihu and Job’s other friends believed, that earthly prosperity is the mark of God’s favor. People who are financially stable and have high-status jobs must be “doing something right.” While there are benefits to following God’s ways (deep peace and a clean conscience, for example), the truth is that the righteous experience trouble, and sometimes evil people prosper.

Only God is “perfect in knowledge” (v4) and wisdom. At the right time He will make “all things work for good” (Rom 8).

Job 35

“If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? … If you are righteous, what do you give to him?” (v6-7). Trying to defend God, Elihu gets it exactly wrong. Job’s story opened with a demonstration of how much God cared about Job’s righteousness. Job’s loyalty to God was a frustration to Satan; Job’s troubles were a test to see if Job would walk away from God when his life fell apart. Far from being detached, God cared deeply about Job’s life.

Like Job, we are often in the dark about why things happen to us. But we can be sure that God is “familiar with all our ways” and our choices matter to Him (Psalm 139).

Job 34

“For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him” (v11). In many other situations, Elihu’s theory works very well, as the proverbs teach us. Our actions have consequences, both earthly and spiritual. However, Job’s life didn’t follow that pattern (at least not all the time), and therefore he questioned the point of serving God, which made Elihu furious (v9). Job’s questions were honest, and so was Elihu’s exasperated response: “God will not do wickedly” (v12).

“What man is like Job …?” (v7). Elihu rejected Job’s questions and anger, but God did not. Our Creator is big enough to handle our worst fears and doubts.

Job 33

“Behold, God does all these … to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life” (v29-30). Well-intentioned Elihu declared many truths to Job, though none spoke to the heart of Job’s situation. God may speak to us through dreams and circumstances to warn us when we stray from His path (v15), but Job had not been falling into sin when disaster struck. Elihu was sincere, but he missed the point.

“God is greater than man” (v12). Even good people like Elihu can make a hard situation worse by trying to “explain” everything. Sometimes, we only know that God is good, and He sees both now and all eternity.

II Corinthians 2:9-17

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (v14). Paul’s plans were often “foiled” or overturned, humanly speaking, by storms, delays, or unexpected events (v12-13). Yet he remained confident that everywhere he went, even in prison, he and his companions were “the aroma of Christ” to those around them, both to those who accepted the message and to those who did not.

As men and women of “sincerity,” (v17), we don’t change our behavior depending on circumstances. We remain true to the Lord, seeking to be the aroma of Christ in every situation.

II Corinthians 2:1-8

“For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (v4). Paul’s deep love for the Corinthian believers motivated him to deal with ongoing sin in the community. In a previous letter (v3) he had urged the Corinthians to confront the sinner in love, and then (apparently after censure and subsequent repentance) welcome him back so that he would not be overwhelmed by “excessive sorrow” (v7).

“So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (v8). Godly love includes confronting the destructiveness of sin within the church and pointing one another toward grace.

Psalm 113

“Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?” (v5-6). The psalmist praised the God who is “high above all nations” and whose glory fills the earth (v4). He “looks down” on us, yet He doesn’t remain distant and uninvolved; He “raises the poor from the dust … and gives the barren woman a home, making her a joyous mother children” (v7-9). Our Father cares about the sorrows and difficulties of human life.

Our God is “seated on high” but also sent His Son into the world to walk among us, to experience suffering and to die in our place. His power and love are unlimited.