Day 190: Don’t Ask Why (Job 40-42; Acts 15:22-41)

Before we come to the grand conclusion (and happy ending) of Job’s story, we get two chapters of God’s perspective on all of this. I don’t know about you, but y’all, I get shivers reading chapters 40 and 41.

Throughout this book, Job keeps pleading with God for a chance to argue his side. But God is silent and bad things keep happening. Finally, when God appears to Job, Job is silent.

Here, God describes a Leviathan. In old Canaanite myths, this was a seven-headed sea monster, but likely here it refers to a very large crocodile. God points out that no man dares to take on this creature, so why do we think that we can stand against God (41:1-11)?

I will be the first to admit that I have asked God “why” before. When times were hard or when prayers went unanswered, I questioned Him. But in those I also moments forgot who I was asking. Like a spoiled child, I forgot that He is King. Who am I to question His decisions or His timing?

Who has preceded me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine. -Job 41:11

God doesn’t owe us answer or explanations. He often gives them to us, because we’re human and He knows that makes us feel better. But, we’re not entitled to know everything or to question His authority.

It’s not bad to ask God for explanations or to ask Him questions. But it is disrespectful to blame Him for everything that goes wrong. And it’s not okay to react with disdain when we don’t get our way with Him.

Because as we see in chapter 42, after all his bravado and even his list of righteous accomplishments from chapter 31, Job admits that he didn’t know what he was talking about all this time. In the end, Job yielded to God’s wisdom and authority.

Maybe you’ve been battling God about something in your life with endless questions and maybe even finger pointing. If that’s the case, I pray that today, you will yield to His authority. He knows best, even when it seems like everything is all wrong. Trust Him. He’s got this!

Day 189: The Jerusalem Council (Job 38-39; Acts 15:1-21)

A dispute arose when some Judeans taught that Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved. Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss this situation with the leaders there. After the Jerusalem council made its decision, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with the news.

I’m sure that at the time, this was a highly debated topic – not just whether Gentiles should be circumcised, but how this new preaching intersected with Jewish tradition. I imagine that when people met up together, they would debate the merits of each side, even within the Church itself.

To resolve this growing issue, the apostles and elders met in Jerusalem. After discussing the issue – and hearing from both sides – they decided that Gentiles need not be circumcised to become a part of God’s people. Letters of this decision were sent to churches.

Nowadays, we have our fair share of issues that give rise to heated debates and disagreements. But we should follow this example and let the elders of our churches make the decisions. Yes, we all have opinions, but these men have been anointed and chosen to lead God’s flock, and as such, it’s not so much what I think, but what God asks of me through my pastor and the church elders. If there is a social or religious issue that you’ve been on the fence about,  yield to what your church elders teach, is the correct way.

Note however, that in this day and age there are a lot of false prophets and leaders, so as always, make sure to filter everything through the Word of God before accepting it as truth!

Day 188: Trials & Troubles (Job 35-37; Acts 14)

Everyone’s heard the popular question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As you can see throughout the book of Job, it does happen. Bad things do happen to good people and it is seemingly without reason. In chapters 35 through 37, the rant from Elihu continues. Though his opinion aligns more with the three other “friends” of Job, he does make a couple of good points.

“He does great things that we cannot comprehend.” -Job 37:5

Amidst the trials and troubles we might face, we must realize the greatness of our God. Questioning the value of remaining constant in faith is taking a step further from our walks. Though it might seem that God hasn’t intervened in your life when you want Him to, does not mean he is uncaring. His timing is better than ours and although he might not immediately intervene to help, God’s plan will prevail.

God’s incomprehensibility can be frustrating. Even reading through the story of Job is exasperating as we wait for the silver lining. In Acts chapter 14, we read of Paul and Barnabas and their evangelical hearts. Despite almost being killed, their quest to spread the Word of God is stronger than any doubt to give up and give into their environment to make life a little easier. By encouraging each other in faith, we not only strengthen one another, but also help in sharing the gospel.

“It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.” -Acts 14:22

Are you struggling with understanding God’s plan for your life? What are some ways that you can help settle your mind and trust in His timing? (Spend more time in the Word, confide in a friend, etc.)

When was the last time you gave encouragement to a fellow brother or sister in Christ? Has your support of them wavered? Make some week-by-week goals on how you can inspire and reassure people in your life who are having troubles.

 

Day 187: True Religion (Job 33-34, Acts 13:24-52)

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us:

‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. -Acts 13:44-49

Through out the book of Acts, we’ve seen Gentiles coming to the first church and following the disciples by the thousands. The Jews envied this. And I’m sure it drove the religious leaders nuts – here they were with their traditions and strict rules, but getting people to show up to the temple was like pulling teeth. But these disciples come and start preaching all sorts of new things and the people follow them in crowds.

Unfortunately, times have changed. Most people have heard about Jesus in some shape or form. With dozens of religions to choose from, it’s often easier to not choose any particular religion and instead make our own way, in our versions of religion that feel right to us and make us feel comfortable. Young people especially struggle with this. We want to find our own way, so we rebel against rules and guidance.

But, because of this, there is even a greater need for true disciples to stand up and speak of the Truth. The world needs a generation of set apart women who stand firm in the word of God and who speak the gospel, even when people don’t want to hear it. The world tells us to keep our beliefs private – you believe what you believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe. But, that’s not what the Bible says.

And He said unto them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” -Mark 16:15

There is a world out there hungering for Truth. Not watered down religion or good Christian entertainment that plagues many churches today, but real people living out the Gospel in the modern world. Have you ever met someone or even found a blog or social media account where you saw a woman living out a Godly life or accomplishing something you’ve only dreamed of and because you saw she could do it, you too believed you could? That’s what the world needs. So, be that inspiration for someone else.

Be the light, and people will also come to you, and through you, they will find Christ. Other believers may envy you. But light attracts people. And until every person hears the Gospel, this world will not end (Matthew 34:14). Yes, many people have heard about Christ. But few have seen true Christianity lived out. Let us be the generation of women who show the world that it is possible to live a set apart life, even in a world so quickly running away from all things religion

Day 186: Accomplishments (Job 31-32; Acts 13:1-23)

In chapter 31 of Job, we see Job list out a list of his accomplishments. He lists all the bad things that don’t please God and counters with the fact that he has not done any of those things. In fact, he walked righteously before God his entire life. Job helped the widows, the poor and the fatherless, he did not cheat on his wife, he showed hospitality to travelers, he treated his workers justly, and did not steal or lie.

Yet, even in Job’s righteousness, God allowed all these terrible tragedies into his life.

But, it got me thinking: what is my defense? When I go through dry seasons of suffering or pain, what will my list look like? What righteous acts follow me? Can I say that I’ve helped orphans and widows and obeyed all the Lord’s commandments?

Yes, a lot of times, the pain and suffering we go through has nothing to do with whether we “deserve” it or not. It’s life and it’s how we grow in God.

But sometimes, it is because of our own unrighteousness. It’s God’s way of humbling us and bringing us back to Him when we’ve wandered away. It’s the consequences we face for  our disobedience.

As Job says in 31:23, falling under the wrath of a living God is a terrifying thing. But when sufferings come our way, I pray that we can also make a list like Job’s, pointing out that we have walked righteously and faithfully before God. After all, the Scripture is filled with examples of people God spared, even for generations, because of their righteousness. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for your children. For example, we keep seeing in the Old Testament how God would show mercy to some kings who did horrible things, but because they were David’s descendants, and for David’s righteousness, the Lord spared them of the punishment they deserved.

Jesus has partially become that for us. Because of His sacrifice, we escape a lot of punishments that we would otherwise have to carry for our disobedience and sin. But we also have a role to play. So, let us build up a portfolio of righteous acts. One day, we’ll all stand before the throne of God, and as God looks through the lives we lived, may He find us full of righteousness.

Day 185: Pray With Thanks (Job 29:30; Acts 12)

I never enjoyed the game of Monopoly much, but whenever I was coerced to play with family and friends, it seemed the “Get Out of Jail Free” card was the most coveted play to receive. With a little luck, anyone could turn their lives around and break free from Monopoly prison. I find life isn’t that different. Often we find ourselves in a tight spot and think that with just a little luck or with a little last-minute praying we can turn it all around in a dramatic flourish.

For Peter in Acts 12, that’s exactly what happened, albeit in more serious stakes than a game of Monopoly. His friend James had just been executed for his faith. King Herod, guided by his need for other people’s approval rather than for God’s favor, threw Peter in prison with the same intended execution. The church gathered in their homes and earnestly prayed for his life.

But something happens: an angel of the Lord appears in his prison cell and leads him to safety. I think it says a lot about Peter’s security in his faith to read he “was sleeping between two soldiers,” despite the intended execution that awaited him in the morning (Acts 12:6.) What’s more is that he followed the angel despite believing he was hallucinating!

Peter’s miraculous escape should be a reminder for us on how and why we pray. A prayer should not simply be a birthday wish or a list of demands. We cannot bargain with God. A prayer should be part of our daily conversation with Jesus. It should be a testimony to our faith and a reminder that we can be comforted in knowing that our fates lie in His hands alone. At the end of the day or in the midst of a trial (literal like Peter’s or not), we are striving to live for God’s approval.

Be confident in our God and know that he will be the light that shines through the prison bars in your life, the trials you face that may seem impossible to break. Have faith in His plan and be like Peter. Go forth and spread the good news, despite the obstacles and people that may try to stand in your way.

Do you only pray when you face trials, as a last resort effort to “Get Out of Jail,” or do you pray with thanksgiving to our Father?

Day 184: Rebel (Job 26-28; Acts 11)

We’ve been rebels since the beginning. We ate the apple. We’ve lied, cheated, and doubted. We’ve constantly fought against the system and have even glorified doing so. The need for rebellion seems to be hard-wired in our DNA.

But what about Godly rebellion? What about rebelling against the standards incorporated by society law rather than holy law? Sometimes being a rebel is all in the perspective.

For centuries the Jews had a system in place: follow the holy laws and only then will you reap the rewards of Heaven. The arrival of Jesus disrupted everything. Suddenly there was a man proclaiming a new Truth: follow Him and everyone will be able to build a life with God. To the Pharisees, Jesus’ mere existence was the ultimate act of rebellion because they didn’t want to break from the old, exclusive laws they had known.

In Acts 11, we have Peter contending with a scenario Jesus himself faced time and time again. God had brought Peter and Cornelius, a Roman along with his entire household, together to grant them the Holy Spirit. Instead of rejoicing at this blessing, Peter returns to face criticism.

So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” -Acts 11:2 (NIV)

Peter had walked in the steps of Jesus when he went to the household of Gentiles and baptized them. Also like Jesus, the first people to condemn his actions were the believers! They were initially too blinded by their old laws and demanded Peter to explain his act of rebellion.

He responds simply by asking, who am I to question the Spirit?

“So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” -Acts 11:17

When was the last time you rebelled for God? Was there a time when something seemed to stand in your way?