Job 28

“But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?” (v12). Job described the way humans had figured out how to mine deep underground for precious things like gold, silver, iron, copper, and gems. Yet on their own, people could never find the most precious thing: wisdom, which ancients believed included knowledge, moral discernment, and the ability to bring order from chaos. “God understands the way to it, and He knows its place” (v23).

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding” (v28). When we try to control our own lives, we end up lost and trapped in sin. But God offers us the way of wisdom.

Job 27

“Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me” (v5). Under intense pressure, Job clung to his conviction that his troubles weren’t a punishment for sin (v6). Though he was angry and didn’t understand God’s ways (v1-3), Job kept turning to the Almighty with his questions. Without God, Job knew there was no hope at all. “For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life?” (v8).

Like Peter, Job knew there was nowhere else to turn. Only the Lord has the “words of life” that can make sense of suffering (John 6:68).

Job 25-26

“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him!” (v14). While Bildad used mankind’s general sinfulness, “worms and maggots” (ch 25), to accuse Job of causing his own downfall, Job refused to agree with this simplistic explanation. He sarcastically questioned Bildad’s method of “helping” Job (2:1), which was more like kicking someone who was already down. Instead, Job declared that we are often speechless when we contemplate “the thunder of God’s power” (v14).

“By His power He stilled the sea …” (v7). God’s power is limitless, yet we only glimpse “a whisper” (v14). We can’t presume to understand everything (like Bildad), but we can trust His love.

Job 24

“Behold…the poor go out to their toil, seeking game; the wasteland yields food for their children…They lie all night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold” (v5-7). Job saw that the wealthy often took advantage of the poor, seizing their fields and even snatching children away from their mothers (v9). Job lamented that the wicked seemed to prosper; however, “they are exalted a little while, and then are gone” (v24). God cares, He sees, and He will accomplish justice.

Jesus proclaimed “good news to the poor” (Luke 4:17), demonstrating to us all that our Savior came to do something about suffering. As His Body, we are called to share His active compassion.

I Corinthians 16:10-24

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (v13-14). Jesus had totally changed Paul’s vision of strength. He had tried to use human power to threaten and control others, but Jesus had opened his blind eyes. Now, Paul communicated that God’s kind of strength and firmness was inseparable from love; in fact, strength expresses itself in sacrificial love that puts others first, crucifies our selfish desires, and speaks truth with gentleness.

“If anyone has no love for the Lord …” (v22). Just as the Old Testament says (Deut 6), God desires more than our belief; He wants us to love Him and love others with our hearts.

I Corinthians 16:1-9

“A wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (v9). Paul both taught and modeled what our priorities should be, as believers. His letters show us not just what we should know, but how we should live. Generosity was the norm: he instructed the Corinthians and other churches to have offerings ready to help the poor in Jerusalem (v1). He made plans but held them lightly, obeying the Spirit and remaining where there was “a wide door” open for ministry.

“If the Lord permits” (v7). Jesus is Lord of all, not just our religious activities. Following Him means being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in everything we do.

Psalm 111

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding” (v10). The fear of the Lord includes honor and reverence and, especially, a recognition of God’s character which He has expressed through His works, a word repeated 5 times in this short psalm. The psalmist said that meditating on what God has done – His creation, His saving acts, His kindness, His provision (v2-4) – causes us to praise Him (v1) and leads to greater understanding and wisdom.

“The works of His hands are faithful and just” (v7). From creation to salvation and His personal kindness to us, we know God is faithful because we’ve experienced His goodness.

Job 23

“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!” (v3). Job wanted to see God and present “his case” before the Creator. He had great faith that if he could find God, “He would pay attention to me … I would be acquitted” (v7). But at present, “I do not perceive him” (v8). Job was in a fog of suffering. Despite this, he believed that God saw everything and would ultimately be fair.

“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (v10). Our own vision may be clouded by confusion or exhaustion, but God sees us clearly, and He will carry us through.

Job 22

“If you return to the Almighty you will be built up …(v23). Much of Eliphaz’s advice and comments were true; the problem was that they didn’t really apply to Job. It is true that when we agree with the Almighty, very often peace and good things are the result (v21). However, Job was a righteous man, beloved by God, when suffering and loss struck him. Eliphaz knew a lot about God and His ways, about the Lord being our “gold and precious silver” (v25), yet he was of little comfort to Job.

Scripture tells us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15). More than explanations, we can be present with those who suffer and lean on God’s comfort.

Job 21

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?” (v7). Job dared to ask very difficult questions, despite the constant criticism and mocking from his companions (v3). He wondered why people who rebelled against God seemed to “spend their days in prosperity” (v13), multiplying riches, singing and dancing, and living to an old age. The injustice of this frustrated Job. Not believing in God’s judgment, their philosophy was apparently “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (I Cor 15).

Real comfort during suffering is not “empty nothings” or false blame (v34). It is bedrock belief that God’s justice and infinite love will have the final word.

Job 20

“This is the wicked man's portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God” (v29). Job’s friend Zophar stubbornly clung to his views on how life treats wicked people and righteous people, despite the evidence of Job’s story. Zophar said that everyone knew (v4) that sinful people have short, miserable lives, and any wealth they earn gets taken away. This satisfied the human expectation of justice, but it ignored the real suffering of innocent people, like Job. Zophar preferred his settled opinions rather than facing the messiness of Job’s life.

We can’t explain all sorrow and suffering. However, we know that our present struggles will be eclipsed by the joy and glory we will one day experience (Rom 8).

I Corinthians 15:12-58

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v20). Paul insisted that Jesus’ bodily resurrection was essential for our salvation. If Christ hasn’t been raised, then death is still victorious, and “you are still in your sins” (v17). But Jesus conquered both sin and its consequence, death, and he shares his victory with us. Therefore, Paul said, we will truly live again. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (v22). One day, we “shall all be changed” (v51).

Our faith and our participation in the “work of the Lord” is not in vain (v58), because His kingdom is eternal.

I Corinthians 15:1-11

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved …” (v1-2). Paul felt it was important to remind the Corinthians believers about the facts of the good news. Jesus the Messiah (God’s anointed ruler) died for our sins “according to Scripture,” and he was buried, raised again, and seen by many people. The gospel is the good news about what Jesus actually did to save us. His death covered our sins, and His resurrection gave us new life.

The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is “of first importance” (v3). Our sins are forgiven, and we live by His resurrection power.

Psalm 110

“The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool” (v1). This psalm celebrates the coming of the righteous King-Priest, the Messiah. The author of Hebrews (1:3, 5:6) quotes from this psalm, declaring that Jesus rules at the Father’s right hand and serves as our high priest “after the order of Melchizidek” (v4). Melchizidek was the mysterious priest to whom Abraham gave tithes long before the Jewish priestly line was created. While human leaders disappoint us, Jesus is the King-Priest we can worship forever.

“Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power” (v3). We can give ourselves freely to the One who used His power to rescue us.

Proverbs 21

“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (13). The proverbs teach that what we do has consequences, and actions flow from our hearts. God wants us to pursue “righteousness and justice” on behalf of those around us (v3), rather than making sacrifices that give us a good reputation. We easily justify all kinds of behavior, but “the Lord weighs the heart” (v3) and wants us to be holy. “A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways” (v29).

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (v21). When we invest our hearts in God’s kingdom, we find abundant life.

Job 18-19

"How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?” (19:2). Job’s “comforters” continued to accuse him of wrongdoing (ch 18), adding frustration and anger on top of his sorrow. Rather than support him, Job’s friends and family avoided him, not wanting to be near him in his grief or get involved in his troubles. “My close friends have forgotten me … All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me” (v14-19). Job was left alone with God.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives … I shall see God” (19:25-26). Our Redeemer lives, and so will we. He has promised to wipe every tear from our eyes (Rev 21:4).

Job 17

“Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?” (v15). At his lowest point, Job thought (wrongly) that all the good parts of his life were history; the future was only dark. “My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart” (v11). He couldn’t make any new plans without some assurance that things would change; he was stuck. Without a sure knowledge of life beyond death, he despaired: “my spirit is broken” (v1).

“If I make my bed in darkness …” (v13). Our ultimate fear has been conquered. Jesus experienced death for us, so that “neither life nor death … the present or the future” can separate us from His love (Rom 8:38).

Job 16

“Surely now God has worn me out …” (v7). Job acknowledged God’s sovereignty over the world, so he thought his suffering was directly caused by God. “I was at ease, and He broke me apart” (v12). Job’s “miserable comforters” (v2) and their “windy words” did nothing to console him; their insistence that he had brought tragedy upon himself only made him angrier. He felt mistreated, yet he clung to God.

“Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high” (v19). We may not understand the cause or see the answer to our troubles, but we are never alone. Our Advocate in heaven, Jesus, has also suffered, and He intercedes for us.

I Corinthians 14:31-40

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace …” (v33). Continuing the theme of church order, Paul taught that the Corinthian women should “keep silent” rather than interrupt the preaching or teaching (v34). However, Paul goes far beyond what would be normal in his day (women focusing on domestic matters) and encourages them to gain knowledge. “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home” (v35). He advocated a culturally sensitive way for women to be educated.

“But all things should be done decently and in order” (v40). We are “in order” when we respect one another and “excel in building up the church” (v12).

I Corinthians 14

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (v1). The Corinthians were apparently enamored with speaking in tongues, to the point that their gatherings were disorderly and unedifying. Paul explained that “when you come together” (v26), it should be for the purpose of mutual “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (v3). Speaking in tongues publicly, therefore, should be interpreted, so that everyone can understand. Others might offer “a hymn, a lesson, a revelation” (v26) etc. Gathering together is a time for the focus to be on worshipping God and building up one another.

God gives us gifts so that His Spirit can move among us, “so that all may learn and all be encouraged” (v31).