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Posted By Nan

These are some of the most beautiful words of praise in the Bible.
Before we get to the fullest praise Job asks a question. How can we be righteous before God?
Job believes he is being punished and wants to plead his case to God. He feels he has not sinned badly enough to deserve the terrible punishment God has handed out. It is extraordinary that, despite this being one of the oldest books in the Bible, that punishment thinking is still so strong today.
Job wants to plead his case to God. He is in a state of despair and has lost hope. He desperately clings to God, impatient, complaining about his suffering. He despairs but is not going to walk away from God or curse Him as satan said he would.
Job perseveres. He is not patient, but he will not reject God.
Instead he acknowledges God’s magnificence, His might and power. But it does not comfort him. Why not?
Why do we all, at least once in our lives, find ourselves in a place where we beg God for help and become angry at our suffering? Suffering that we feel we do not deserve. Why do we continue to kick and scream and demand action? Why do we feel abandoned by God? Like Job we see the suffering and lose our vision of God as a just God who wants to bless us. We believe we are entitled to never have to suffer. We expect God will fix things. That He has to. We see Him as wanting to bless others but not thinking we deserve any better. We fight and kick and scream. Philip Yancey suggested we fail to draw comfort from God because we are too busy fighting Him, instead of trusting. We try to make ourselves feel better by praising Him, which we are told is the antidote to our despair. The praise doesn’t work because underlying it is despair and hopelessness. Praising the despair and hopelessness away does not work. It amounts to attempting to deny our feelings, which need to be acknowledged, not squashed. The best response instead is to admit our feelings and our despair and cling to God. To ask Him to sustain us. To hold on and let go of our need to understand and dictate terms and just hold on until one day we realise we can feel God’s presence again and know we have come through this time of despair. Sometimes there is no explanation, no reason, just persevering until things get better. And maybe in that there is avoiding all the do-gooders like Eliphaz and Bildad who only make it worse.

I am taking some time out now for some family time. My little family unit here in Queensland are travelling interstate to visit our other daughter in Canberra. In the meantime I will not be posting any blogs until 13 January. May God bless you in 2016 and watch over you if you, like my family, are travelling.

Posted By Nan

Bildad doesn’t mince words. Whereas Eliphaz implied Job was sinful, Bildad openly accuses him of being sinful.
Bildad then suggests that if Job pleads with God about how good he is and deserves from God then God will give him the good things his faith entitles him to.
It is as though satan has directed Bildad to tempt Job because what Bildad is suggesting is that Job should demand from God his just reward which proves satan right – that Job only fears God because of the way God rewards him.
This is an important message for us. We should love God because of who He is, not because of what He does for us.
We need to lose the sense of entitlement and the idea that the Christian life is an easy one and the magical thinking that all we have to do is be ‘good’ and God will give us an easy life.
What God wants from us is for us to be patient and wait on God (James 5v7) and stand firm in our faith.

Posted By Nan

You have to hand it to Bildad. He knows the importance of remaining connected to God. You cannot fault his faith in God. His interpretation of doctrine leaves a lot to be desired but in this section he speaks the truth.
We forget God.
This does not mean we stop believing in Him. It means we forget to rely on Him. We do what every human since Adam and Eve has done. We try to do things on our own. And we always fail. Without God it just doesn’t work. We may find temporary success, but the real success in God does not happen when we interfere.
When we are under extreme stress, we often try to fix it or we tell God what we want Him to do to fix it. And He doesn’t always fix it. And He doesn’t always give us what we have told Him we need.
As Christmas approaches I think back over my years of Counselling to many different people I have met along the way and how they faced Christmas. Distress always seems so much harder at Christmas. We are supposed to have a magical time. Christmas is not supposed to be hard. But where did God say Christmas would be like that?
Many struggle at Christmas.
The wife who tries to find her place at Christmas as a widow.
The woman who tries to be enthusiastic about the celebrations her recently deceased mother loved.
The sister who tries to face a Christmas without her only sibling.
The mother who tries to find joy in a season that will not include her son.
The homeless man wishing he could visit his family, that they wanted him, and wondering if Christmas will be any different to any other day.
I wonder how Job, if he had lived in the time after Jesus, would have faced Christmas with his beloved children dead. No wonderful celebration at one of their houses. No joyous prayers to God asking forgiveness for anyone’s sin. No joyous celebration of God. Only misery.
We have this fairy tale idea that Christmas should be a magical time. A time for joy, and happiness and being with those we love. But that is not Christmas. Christmas was a dirty stable with only a manger and some straw and rags to wrap that precious new baby in. Christmas was murdered baby boys and a tiny family fleeing as refugees down through the ages have fled, desperately seeking a place of safety. Christmas was the knowledge of a young mother that this beautiful boy she had just given birth to had a lifetime of suffering ahead of him. There was no family, no fairy tale home with all the food and trimmings.
This brought to mind the song Blessings by Laura Story. The last few lines seem to express so much in answer to our fairy tale view of Christmas and our fairy tale idea of how God should fix our suffering.

‘'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise ‘

May God bless you with a true vision of Christmas and may you draw closer to Him during this wonderful season of celebration of the arrival of our promised Messiah.

Posted By Nan

Bildad continues his speech. Whereas Eliphaz took a spiritual perspective in his speech to Job, Bildad, with all the arrogance of youth, calls on the wisdom passed down through the generations.
This supposed wisdom is the traditions people follow. In this case, the main tradition is to perceive suffering as a sign of God’s punishment and condemnation.
Following traditions and calling them wisdom is something that has always been done and is still done today. It is frequently done in churches and used to excuse some beliefs and behaviours that are not necessarily consistent with what Jesus taught us in the Bible.
We do something because it has always been done that way.
I am reminded of Jesus defying tradition while he was on earth. He healed on the Sabbath, a tradition that the religion of his day held as the truth. But, as Jesus was without sin, his actions breached tradition, not God’s law. Things like healing on the Sabbath and associating with sinners were against the traditions of his religion, but He did them because they were not against the will of God.
So many of the traditions of Jesus’ day were not of God. They were of man. The same occurs today. We follows traditions blindly and never question them. We never ask God. We never check these traditions against what the Bible says. We follow them because that is how they have always been done and that must be right, mustn’t it?
Consider carefully before judging others whether you are following God or a tradition.

Posted By Nan

Bildad is impatient. Why can’t this man stop blustering and accept God’s justice is always right? Can’t he see that God punished his children for their sin? Why doesn’t he stop kidding himself and beg God for forgiveness for his sin. If he does that and God deems him worthy then God will restore him and from humble beginnings he will know a prosperous future.
Bildad, like Eliphaz, is stuck on the belief that all suffering is a penalty from God for sin. He accuses Job of accusing God of perverting just, but Job has not done that. He does get one thing right. God is always just.
Bildad then tells Job to accept his children had sinned and received a just punishment and that he also has sinned and needs to beg God for forgiveness.
He inadvertently spoke prophetically when he told Job he would be restored to his rightful place. But that is no comfort to Job. Bildad is as unable to help Job as Eliphaz is. He is also stuck on the idea of suffering being a punishment for sin. How often do we fail to help others in need because of our rigid beliefs and failure to ask God to direct our actions in life?



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