Two Voices

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”1

According to the Bible, our current, sinful nature is a direct result of a choice made by the first man and woman. In the beginning, they heard from two competing voices before making their tragic choice. The first voice they heard from was God. When He created Adam, He placed him in the beautiful Garden of Eden and provided everything he could ever want: fruit trees, a river, the privilege of tending the garden, and also a wife. The two of them were given a paradise to enjoy together with only one rule. They could eat from every fruit tree in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The penalty for eating this fruit would be death.2 But with all that God had already provided for them, why would they want to disobey God and face death?

The second voice came from a serpent. As serpents do not normally talk, the voice must have come from the great deceiver Satan. He subtly asked the woman if God had forbidden them from eating any fruit in the garden. She corrected him and said that they were permitted to eat of any fruit except for fruit from one tree. She was convinced that eating that fruit or even touching it would bring about her death. The serpent took advantage of her naivety and told a lie. He claimed that she would not die but that God was withholding something she should desire—the ability to be like God by knowing both good and evil. Despite all the good that God had done for them, Eve chose to believe the serpent’s lie instead of God’s truth. She chose to eat the forbidden fruit and give some to her husband. Sadly, the result was just as God had promised. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned.”3 Two competing voices led to two vastly different results.

1 Gen. 3:2-5 2 Gen. 2:15-17 3 Rom. 5:12 — Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Two Books

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. … And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”1

According to the Bible, God will judge all people after death. The final judgment will be based on what is written in two books. The first book contains a record of the works each person has done. If this book contains a record of everything we have done, are any of us good enough to escape God’s judgment? The sad answer is no. The Bible says that “we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses [good works] are like filthy rags.”2 It is clear that God is not impressed with our “good works.” The Bible also says that “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”3 If this is God’s description of the works of all people, then none of us has a chance to escape a guilty verdict at the final judgment.

The second book used at the final judgment is the Book of Life. The first book contains a record of all the works each person has done. This second book only contains a listing of names. At the end of this final judgment, anyone whose name is not listed in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire—God’s punishment for all who have sinned and rebelled against Him. But anyone whose name is listed in the Book of Life will escape this judgment. Instead of eternal punishment, they are given life. The big question that should be asked is this. How can my name be recorded in the Book of Life so that I can escape the coming judgment?

1 Revelation 20:11-12, 15
2 Isaiah 64:6
3 Romans 3:10-12

Which one is the empty headed man? — Job 11-14

When I was younger, there were a number of funny responses you could say to a friend. One that still makes me laugh is, “That’s what I said, lemon head.” The little rhyming rejoinder is a little jab that makes you wonder what a lemon head is and if you are one. In today’s chapters, someone uses a similar saying, but this time it is “an empty-headed man.” That doesn’t sound very nice, now does it? If you are an empty-headed person your speech or actions are displaying a lack of brains.

  1. The conversation between Zophar and Job (Job 11-14)

    Once again, one of Job’s friends thinks he has Job’s situation figured out. And once he has stated his concerns, Job responds to him and then to God. As we look through the chapter, note how many good things are said and then try to determine whether they are correctly applied.

    Zophar accused Job and pled with him (Job 11:1-20).

    “Zohar retorted viciously to Job for claiming to be innocent and for accusing God of malpractice.”1 He claimed that Job’s speech was empty talk (11:3) that needed to be addressed. Job had claimed to be pure and clean (11:4) but Zophar “knew” that God was not giving him what he deserved for his iniquity (11:6). He also knew that God knows our wickedness and responds in a way that we can’t hinder (11:10). So Job was an empty-headed person to respond the way he had (11:12). “The chances of Job’s becoming wise were no greater than the possibility of a wild donkey … giving birth to a man!”1 Toward the end of his speech, Zophar seems to settle down and show concern for Job by pleading with him to prepare his heart (11:13), put away his sin (11:14), and seek God’s solution to his problems. “Zophar is saying, ‘If you would just deal with the sin that is in your life and quit fighting it, God would hear and answer your prayers and restore you.”3 But if Job would not, Zophar told him he could not escape God’s judgment (11:20).

    Job was not happy with Zophar (Job 12:1-13:19).

    After being accused of being empty-headed, Job accused Zophar of thinking he was the only wise person left on earth (12:2). He told him that what he had said was known by everyone (12:3). But to Job, it seemed that God was now helping the wicked (12:6) and harming him. Job further pointed out the fact that birds, beasts, and fish knew how to discern what was happening (12:7-8). (He said this after Zophar has mentioned the stupid donkey.2) If God holds back the rain, it will become dry and if he pours out the water, there will be a flood (12:15). From Job’s perspective, it was clear to see that God builds up kingdoms and then tears them down (12:23).

    Job wished that God would let him speak (13:3) and that his friends would leave him alone (13:4-5). They should be wary of speaking such things for God (13:7) because God could confront (13:9) and rebuke them (13:10). Despite their unhelpful “help” and this desire to defend himself, Job was still trusting in the Lord (13:15). God alone was his salvation (13:16).

    Job poured out his heart to God (Job 13:20-14:22).

    Job prayed that God would remove his hand from him (13:21) and that He would respond to him (13:22). But, as McGee notes, “he is telling God what to do. … Job tried to tell God how He should handle his situation.”4 He couldn’t figure out what sins he had committed (13:23). At this point, his life was like a shadow that would soon disappear (14:2) so why would God do this to him? His circumstances were so severe that he longed for the grave (14:13). He knew that God had covered his sins (14:17) but he was still feeling hopeless (14:19).

  2. The lessons from their conversation

    In Zophar’s speech, he mentioned an empty-headed man. After reading these four chapters, who was the empty-headed man? Zophar seemed to think it was Job. He equated Job’s suffering with earned judgment. To him, God never allows godly people to suffer, so this suffering must be a judgment from God for Job’s undisclosed sin. But Job seemed to send the accusation back at Zophar. He was unaware of any unconfessed sin that God would be judging him for. To him, he didn’t deserve the “judgment” he was receiving, presumably, from God.

    As you read the conversation between Zophar and Job, they both seem to be speaking with both wisdom and ignorance. Zophar’s speech was actually pretty good. He was a friend confronting his friend about what he considered to be ungodly speech. He wanted Job to repent and to be restored by God. This is good and what a friend should do. However, He wasn’t right about Job’s situation. He should have held back his accusations until he had all the information. Job’s speech was also pretty good. His trust in the Lord was still there but his frustration was growing. There were too many questions on his mind and it didn’t seem right. Why wouldn’t God answer him?


“These first speeches by Job’s companions offered no comfort. Though their generalities about God’s goodness, justice, and wisdom were true, their cruel charge that Job repent of some hidden sin missed the mark. They failed to see that God sometimes has other reasons for human suffering.”1

How should we respond to what happened here?

1. Don’t be quick to judge. Zophar quickly jumped on the band wagon of accusing Job of something he hadn’t done. It is easy to make assumptions based on circumstances instead of facts.

2. Be gentle with others. Zophar’s vitriolic speech wasn’t a good idea. While there are times when God’s servants have used sarcasm against evil-doers, this was a spiritual brother. Instead of helping him make his point, it made Job angry. Be gentle.

3. Trust the Lord while you wait. Job still didn’t understand why he was going through his suffering. But he still voiced his trust in the Lord. It must have been hard to do that. But God is trustworthy as we have seen throughout the Bible and will see at the end of this book.

4. Remember who is ultimately in charge. Job was getting awfully close to demanding things from God. His pain must have contributed to his boldness. Let’s just remember who we are and who God is. Let him be God.


1 Zuck 733.
2 Zuck 734.
3 McGee 609.
4 McGee 612.


McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee Vol II: Joshua through Psalms, Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1982, pp. 607-613.

Zuck, Roy B., “Job” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, pp. 733-36.

Remember the Heroes of the Past

On Memorial Day, as we sit with our friends and families, we will be tempted to enjoy our freedom without counting the cost. Many soldiers have fought and died in wars to protect our freedom and to help those in other countries. We must never forget these valiant heroes. Do you remember the US Polar Bears who fought against the Bolsheviks in Russia at the end of WW1? Do you remember the Tuskegee Airmen who served as pilots in WW2? How about Franklin Sousley, one of the six soldiers who was killed in action after raising the flag on Iwo Jima? Have you heard about James B. Stockdale who was shot down over Hanoi and spent 8 years in a Vietnamese prison camp? While we will not remember all those who have fought and died for our freedom, we should take some time to remember as many as possible.

As you read through the pages of the Bible, you will quickly realize that God included many accounts of military heroes. We read about many who trusted God and then did valiant things. Their courage and faith in God are recorded so that we would learn from their examples. God honored their faith and gave them the victory when others fled in fear. Today we will be looking at the names and stories of some of these heroes. And as we do, I hope that their memories will motivate us to be courageous in our own times. Let us trust the Lord and move forward for Him no matter what opposition lies before us.

  1. Judges

    The Book of Judges is a history of what happened between Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and the birth of Samuel the prophet. Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites were given the opportunity to trust God’s enablement to defeat many enemies. But after his death, the people slowly turned away from the Lord and forgot about Him. In Judges 3:7, we read that “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.” As a result, God judged his people by sending enemies to conquer and rule over them. When the people recognized the wrong they had done, they cried out to the Lord and asked for help. In response to their prayers, God send a variety of judges to deliver them from their enemies and turn their hearts back to Him.

    Shamgar the son of Anath (Judges 3:31) – God doesn’t tell us much about Shamgar except for his victory over the Philistines. With God’s ability, he killed 600 Philistines at one time using only an oxgoad.

    Gideon the son of Joash the Abiezrite (Judges 7) – Gideon was skeptical at first because of all the suffering his people were facing. But after God convinced him, he gathered a small army. God dismissed most of the soldiers and left only 300 for Gideon to work with. With God’s empowerment, Gideon and the 300 defeated the huge army of the Midianites.

    Samson son of Manoah (Judges 15:14-15) – The story of Samson is a bit different. He was not the best example when it comes to morality. However, the Lord used him as a judge over Israel and empowered Samson to kill 1000 Philistine soldiers at one time using only a jawbone of a donkey.

    We should remember these three judges for their valiant deeds when their country needed them most. But we must also remember them in connection with God’s plan. These men may have been great soldiers, but God was the one who enabled them to defeat their enemies to show His great love for His people. Without God’s help, these people would have never escaped the oppression of their enemies. But at the same time, we can honor these men for what they did for God and for His people.

  2. David’s mighty men

    As you may recall, David was the one who trusted the Lord and defeated Goliath the giant with a sling. His great victory over the giant caused King Saul to become jealous. David eventually had to run away from the king and hide in the wilderness. During this time, he amassed a group of men around him who were valiant soldiers. Many of these heroes served under him when he replaced Saul as king. A list of about thirty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. For our study, we will look at three of these heroes in the second passage.

    Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite (1 Chron. 11:12-14) – Eleazar seems to be one of the top three mighty men listed in this chapter. He was known as a fearless fighter who stood his ground when others fled. He and some others stationed themselves in the middle of a field and fought against the Philistines until they were defeated. The Lord honored his bravery and gave them the victory.

    Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada (1 Chron. 11:22-25) – Benaiah is my personal favorite of David’s Mighty Men. He is noted here for several heroic acts. First, he killed two Moabite soldiers who were like lions. Apparently, their strength and ferociousness were like that of a lion. Second, he killed a real lion in a pit on a snowy day. Killing a lion is not something many have done let alone in hand to hand combat in a pit during the winter. Third, Benaiah killed an Egyptian enemy soldier who was 7½ feet tall. The Egyptian must have been not only tall but also strong as his spear was likened to a weaver’s beam. These three events reveal that Benaiah was a legendary soldier who made it into the top six on the list. We later learn that Benaiah was appointed over the army when King Solomon took the throne.

    Uriah the Hittite (1 Chron. 11:41; 2 Sam. 11:6-17) – The account of David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife is a terrible story. But in that story, we see why Uriah was honored as one of David’s top thirty soldiers. When David tried to cover his sin, Uriah was invited to Jerusalem to report about the conflict. When David told him to rest at home, Uriah wouldn’t do it. “Though Uriah had been granted a temporary reprieve from battle by the king, he was a true soldier and chose to remain focused on his mission. Uriah could not fathom indulging his own pleasures while his band of brothers were fighting a battle that still needed to be won.”1 David ultimately orchestrated a plan to have Uriah killed in battle. But this also shows his honor in that he followed his commander’s orders even when it led to his death. We need more people like Uriah … the Hittite. Wait, he was a Hittite? Yes, one of the men honored by God in this account was not an Israelite but a Hittite who had left his false gods to serve the one true God.

    As we look at these three mighty men who served King David, we are amazed at their honor, faithfulness, courage, and accomplishments. The Bible records their valiant acts as an example to us. We should remember them and seek to follow their examples. Be courageous for the Lord and trust Him to do great things as you serve Him no matter who the enemy may be.

  3. Christian heroes

    The Book of Acts is a record of how God used a variety of Christians to spread the gospel message across the world. It was not easy. You might say that it was a battle—a spiritual battle. The Jewish religious leaders fought against them to the point where they imprisoned Christians and even killed some. Despite these difficulties, several early Christians stood their ground and fought God’s battles. These men should be remembered.

    Peter and John (Acts 4:1-22) – With the aid of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John preached the gospel to the people in Jerusalem, the same place where Jesus had been crucified a short time earlier. The unbelieving religious leaders confronted them and took them into custody. When hauled in front of the leaders, they were questioned by the high priest, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Peter answered by preaching about Jesus. He confronted them about their evil deeds to Jesus and proclaimed salvation in no other name. The religious leaders were surprised by their boldness but still commanded them not speak in Jesus’ name anymore. Both Peter and John responded like heroes. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Their courage to speak for the Lord is an example for us to follow today.

    Stephen (Acts 7) – A little while later, the early church elected seven men to serve as the first deacons. One of them was Stephen. He was wise, Spirit-filled, and reputable. That is seen in what followed soon after he was chosen. In Acts 6:8-10, we see God enabling him to do miracles and to speak about Jesus in such a way that nobody could resist his efforts. People were listening to him and this made the religious leaders angry. So, true to form, they hauled him in front of the council. There he was falsely accused of speaking blasphemy. But when given the opportunity to respond, Stephen’s spoke with great power. In Acts 7, he recited the history of God’s working with the Israelites despite their stiff-necked rebellion. He finished off the speech with these words:

    Acts 7:51-53 – “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.

    His Spirit-filled speech was more than the religious leaders could handle. They took him outside of the city and killed him by stoning. But even as he was being murdered, Stephen asked God to be merciful to his enemies. This is the kind of hero that we should remember today.


As we have seen in multiple Bible passages, God recorded true accounts of heroes for us to remember. He recorded those stories in the Bible both to honor these men but also to give us an example of how we ought to live. I think what God wants us to respond in the same way these men did. They trusted in the Lord and then did what needed to be done. If you were to ask one of these men if they thought they were something special, do you think they would answer yes? Hmm… I’m not sure how they would answer. They would probably give God the glory and say something like, I was just the person whom God used at that particular place in time.

Many years have passed since these men were actively being used by the Lord. But we remember them today as godly examples of people whom God could use and did. What do you think? Is it possible that God could use someone like you today? It all begins when you turn from your sin and place your faith in Jesus. Once God has saved you, He gives you the power to do what needs to be done. So, if you are a Christian today, will you trust the Lord and faithfully serve Him come what may? Perhaps your life could then be used as an example to future generations.


1 “Who was Uriah the Hittite?”


“Who was Uriah the Hittite?” as viewed at on 5/27/2023.

What did you do to deserve this? – Job 8-10

In the classic movie, The Sound of Music, Maria sings a song to the captain about her unexpected fortune in finding his love. The lyrics of the song give the impression that their relationship must have been the result of something good she did.

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

We tend to think the same way about bad things that happen. Why is it that someone’s relative is in the hospital? Apart from whatever physical event happened, was there a reason God allowed this to happen? Was the person living in sin? Were they running from God? While these questions seem overly judgmental, we have seen some people suffer the consequences of their sins. So, is it really a stretch to wonder that about other people? The problem with this kind of thinking is that we are analyzing current events without knowledge of what God is doing behind the scenes. If we are honest, we really don’t know why things happen.

In Job 8-10, we will see that this way of thinking is not something new. It was practiced thousands of years ago when Job’s friends addressed what they thought was a flaw in Job’s character. What had he done to deserve God’s judgment?

  1. Bildad thought that Job’s tragedy was his own fault (Job 8).

    After listening to the argument given by Eliphaz and Job’s response, Bildad gave a simple devotional to Job explaining why God had judged Job. To him there was no other explanation. It was perfectly clear that Job and his family were under the judgment of God.

    Maybe God judged your children for their sins (8:4). Bildad seems to have been offended by what Job was saying. He seemed to think that Job was accusing God of being unjust. God is just. He always does what is right. So how could Job question what had happened to him and his children. Maybe God grew tired of being merciful to Job’s children. Maybe they finally crossed the line and were judged by God as were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. If so, their deaths were the result of their own sins.

    Maybe God isn’t listening because you are impure (8:6). Bildad had a high view of God’s goodness to his loyal followers. In his mind, God always helped those who sought Him and always rewarded those who were pure. This is why he called Job to examine his own life. Perhaps these bad circumstances were a result of Job’s sinful behavior. While Job was not known as a sinful man, perhaps there were somethings in his life that nobody but God knew. This leads to the next thought.

    Maybe God has afflicted you because you forgot Him (8:12-13). Bildad suddenly thought of an illustration that explained how Job at first had success and then hit rock bottom. He was like a papyrus reed in a marsh. Just as a reed grows for a while and then withers, so had Job. He had wealth and success for a while and then all this happened. In Bildad’s mind this was the end of all who forgot God. Job must have been enjoying his wealth too much and then forgot God.

    Bildad actually said some good things. There are consequences for sin. There are consequences for not listening to God. There are consequences for forgetting God. But despite the truths in his words, they did not apply to Job. He wrongly assumed that he had all the fact and knew for certain what God was doing. This was a mistake.

  2. Job responded with several important question (Job 9-10).

    In response to Bildad’s statements, Job agreed with some of his ideas. He agreed that sin has its consequences and that God often rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. However, his situation wasn’t easily explained by these statements because he had been living a righteous life. So he followed up with several questions.

    How can anyone be righteous before God? (9:2) This is a good question. We know from other parts of the Bible, that apart from the imputed righteousness of Jesus, none of us is actually righteous in God’s eyes (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:10-13). Job rightly asked how one could get God’s attention and claim to be righteous. God knows all of our failings and knows that we are not good inside.

    Who can question what God is doing? (9:12) Job describes God’s omnipotence in several ways. God can move mountains (9:5), hold back the sun (9:7), and made all the stars (9:9). Being that God is so powerful in being able to do such impossible things, who are any of us to question what He is doing?

    Who else could be causing these problems? (9:24) In verses 21-24, Job asserts his blameless character but begins to question what he saw happening around him. From Job’s perspective, God destroys both the blameless and the wicked. He even blamed God for laughing when the innocent suffer and holding back judges from doing right. But his question in verse 24 comes very close to discovering who was behind the bad things happening to him. If it were not God, who else could it be? We know that it was Satan behind his suffering, but Job didn’t know that.

    Why was God doing this to him? (10:7) Job pours out his thoughts in verses 1-7. He turns to God with real questions. He asked to show him what he had done wrong. Did God think this was a good way to work with his children? Was it fair for God to punish him for not being wicked? Sadly, Job didn’t know how he could find deliverance from what he assumed was God’s judgment.

    Did you notice something about Job’s questions? He began by asking these questions to Bildad, then to himself, and finally to God. He answered his friend’s comments first by talking about his humble standing before God. Next he asked himself if someone else could be causing the problems. Finally, he asked God why he was being afflicted. If nothing else, Job’s questions finally turned him to ask the One who had the answers. Despite his misunderstanding of his circumstances, this was the right thing to do.


What do we learn from Bildad and Job today? From Bildad, we learn that it is not wise to apply general principles to every situation. General principles are good to have but we have to admit that we don’t always have all of the facts when trying to figure things out. Before we decide to judge another person’s situation, we need to step back and admit that we are not God. He alone has the complete understanding of the situation.

From Job, we can learn the same lesson. He was right to state that none of us is righteous and that we have no right to question God’s motives. But then he did just that. He would have done better to admit that his knowledge of the situation was limited and that God can do as He sees fit. Before we begin to question God’s motives or assign blame to Him for our situation, remember that God is still the loving Father who always does what is best. If you know God, you know that He is good. And you also know that He is wise. Instead of questioning His motives every time something bad happens, maybe it would be better to assume that God is still in control and it will all work out in the end.

The Cure for Anxiety – Philippians 4:6-7

On December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine wrote these words: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He was writing as a patriot to those who were fighting against the tyranny of the British government. After the United States declared independence from Britain, they had to fight to defend not only their freedom but also their own lives and families. These were indeed times that tried their souls.

While most of us are not facing giant problems like starvation, poverty, or bodily harm, we do face problems every day. These problems get to us after a while. We think about them. We wonder how to solve them. We start to fret about them. And soon that problem becomes what we are thinking about all week long! Today, we will read two verses in the Bible that can help us overcome this constant anxiety.

As we look at the thoughts found in Philippians 4:6-7, we will consider three statements that God wants us to think about: (1) We don’t need to be anxious, (2) we need to talk to God about our problems, and (3) we can have peace.

  1. We don’t need to be anxious (Phil. 4:6a).

    Paul tells us plainly that we should “be anxious for nothing.” Nothing should induce us to start fretting as if there is no hope. If you are like most people, we are thinking “easier said than done.”

    What does it mean to be anxious?

    Bill Mounce gives a good definition of anxiety. It is, “to worry… be concerned; to expend careful thought… to have the thoughts occupied with.”1 “To care and be genuinely concerned is one thing. To worry is another. Paul and Timothy cared for the people they ministered to (2 Cor. 11:28; Phil. 2:20), yet they retained trust in God.”4 The anxiety Paul refers to is the mindset where we are constantly thinking about something without it being solved. This lack of a solution causes us to keep thinking, fretting, and worrying about how to handle the situation. “Such worry may be about food or drink or clothes or one’s life-span or the future or words to be spoken in self-defense or even about ‘many things.'”8 Whatever it may be, should we be fretting about it?

    What should cause us to be anxious?

    The answer is nothing. “Nothing is the most exclusive word in the English language. It leaves out everything.”6 Basically, we are being told as Christians that there is no reason to be anxious. “Does this mean we are … not to face reality? Are we to believe that sin is not real, that sickness is not real, that problems are not real? Are we to ignore these things? No. Paul says that we are to worry about nothing because we are to pray about everything.”6 That is what our next point is all about.

  2. We need to tell God our problems (Phil. 4:6b).

    How often do we share our problems with those who cannot help us? I have found myself talking about problems with people who could not help. I suppose it helps to vent sometimes, but does it? There is someone who can help, if we would just talk to Him.

    Who should we talk to?

    The answer is God. Peter knew this. He said so in the following verse:

    1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

    Our prayers should be directed to God as He is the One who can handle every need that we have. We are told to inform God of our needs. We are to act as if we were standing before a king and making known to him what he did not formerly know. This may seem a bit strange because God already knows everything. But this is what God wants from us. Perhaps it is the conversation and relationship that God desires. Or maybe He just wants to hear from us and see our dependence on Him. In any event, we are told to talk to God about our needs instead of fretting about them.

    How should we talk to Him?

    Before we look at the four parts of prayer, consider what precedes them. He says “but in everything.” This is a reminder that God wants to hear from us about everything that is on our mind. I don’t think this is an invitation to rant or be disrespectful but is more like freedom to respectfully speak about the issues bothering us.

    “Some years ago, I am told, a [widow] in Philadelphia came to Dr. G. Campbell Morgan with this question, ‘Dr. Morgan, do you think we should pray about the little things in our lives?’ Dr. Morgan in his characteristically British manner said, ‘Madam, can you mention anything in your life that is big to God?'”6 He makes a good point. Is there anything too big or too small for God?

    We understand that our Heavenly Father is interested in whatever we are anxious about. But how do we express our thoughts to the One who already knows what we are about to say. In verse 6, we are told that there are four ways: prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and requests. While there may be some overlap, here are some thoughts about each one.

    Prayer – “Prayer is any form of reverent address directed to God.”8 An example of this was covered in the Adult Sunday School class this morning. When God announced his possible judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham respectfully addressed the situation with God (Gen. 18). He repeatedly approached the Lord with great humility but also with great passion.

    Genesis 18:27-28 – “Then Abraham answered and said, ‘Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?’”

    Supplication – “By this is meant the humble cry for the fulfillment of needs that are keenly felt.”8 A supplication is a request from someone who is in need and who acknowledges that. As we come to God, we must place ourselves in the proper attitude as a needy person entreating the One who can meet those needs.

    Thanksgiving – Rienecker describes this as “the grateful acknowledgement of past mercies.”2 Hendriksen goes even further: “There must be grateful acknowledgement for: … past favors, … present blessings, and … firmly-grounded assurances for the future.”9 I think that both ideas are correct. We need to acknowledge God’s provision and thank Him for it. If we remembered what God has already done, we would believe that God can handle the current situation, and that would limit the amount of anxiety we face on a daily basis.

    Requests – These are “not vague generalities. … There must be definite, specific requests.” If we would like God to work in specifics, we should ask in specifics. In Genesis 24:10-14, Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. When he got to the location, he asked God specifically to reveal the right woman by a specific sign. In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon asked God to specifically give him a sign … twice. In both cases, God answered their specific requests.

    Before Sharon and I were married, I was a bit bashful about asking her to the Valentine’s Day Banquet. As I walked her to her dorm, I finally said, “I was wondering if you would like to go to the banquet with me.” Sharon’s reply was rather coy: “Oh you were, were you?” It was then that I had to be a bit more specific. Thankfully, she said yes to my specific request.

    I have been wondering if the lack of results from my prayers stem from that same issue. Perhaps I am asking in generalities instead of asking God to do specific things for us and our church family. In another letter to believers, Paul wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20). He knew that God could do more than we think He can. let me ask you a question. How have your prayers been? Have you been humbly bringing your prayers, supplications, and requests to the Lord with the specific items you need? Or have you been asking in generalities? Perhaps we need to rethink how we bring our requests to the Lord.

  3. We can have peace (Phil. 4:7).

    When we have specific needs, we may be tempted to worry. And that worry may become fretting if we are not careful to bring those worries to the Lord. But when we do take them to the Lord (and we know this to be true but often fail to take advantage of it), God promises to give us His peace.

    What kind of peace is offered?

    First, it is the peace of God. This ought to encourage us. It is not a peace that comes from our strength or abilities. It is the peace of God. And His peace is “fairly” substantial. Wouldn’t you agree? Second, it is a peace that surpasses our understanding. We often think about good, better, best for quality. But God’s peace surpasses all of those ratings. It is beyond anything we can experience elsewhere.

    Perhaps an illustration will help us to understand God’s peace. Do you remember when Jesus and the disciples were on the Sea of Galillee during a storm. The disciples were “losing it” as the wind blew and the waves crashed over their boat. But where was Jesus? He was sleeping. When the disciples chided him for not caring about their welfare, Jesus commanded the storm to abate: “Peace, be still.” Immediately, the sea was calm! This peace of God which Paul writes about is like that. It allows us to have a feeling of tranquility and the ability to sleep peacefully amidst the storms of life.

    How will God’s peace affect us?

    We are told that it will guard our hearts and minds. When we experience God’s peace, it keeps us from becoming anxious. It guards us like “soldiers standing on guard duty.”3 Just as soldiers guard a city against the enemy, so God’s peace guards our hearts and minds. Our hearts (feelings) and minds (thoughts leading to actions3) will be kept from feeling anxious and acting out those feelings. The prophet Isaiah knew about this peace.

    Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

    Note that the peace that surpasses our ability to understand it, it rooted in Christ Jesus. In other words, this peace can only be found by those who are in Jesus, who have been saved, forgiven by, and changed by God. If you are a Christian today, you are someone who knows the value of Jesus. You have repented of your sinful ways and have placed your faith in Christ alone to be made right with God and have been saved from eternal judgment in Hell. And if you are in Christ today, you have something available that the world doesn’t have—God’s peace. Take advantage of it by taking your anxieties to the Lord.


J. Vernon McGee concludes with these comments: “Notice that we entered this passage in anxiety, with worry, and we come out of the passage with peace. Between the two was prayer. Have things changed? Not really. … Although the storm has not abated, something has happened in the individual.”7 This is true. God doesn’t promise to take away the problems. But He does promise to give us His peace.

I wonder this morning if you have come to church with a burden on your mind. You have been fretting about something that you think is too big for you or even for God to solve. Although it may seem like an impossible problem to solve, it is something you should give over to God. We have learned that all of our anxieties should be turned over to the Lord in prayer. And when we do that, God will replace those fears with His peace. Will you turn over your troubles to the Lord today?


1 Mounce
2 Rienecker 560.
3 Rienecker 561.
4 Lightner 663.
5 Lightner 664.
6 McGee 322.
7 McGee 322.
8 Hendriksen 195.
9 Hendriksen 196.

Greek Definitions

μεριμνᾶτε – “to worry, have anxiety, be concerned; to expend careful thought; to concern one’s self; to have the thoughts occupied with”1 “to be fretful”2
δεήσει – “prayer, request, petition … entreaty; prayer, supplication”1 “generally a request arising from a specific need”2
εὐχαριστίας – “expression of thanks, thanksgiving, gratitude”1 “the grateful acknowledgement of past mercies, as distinguished from the earnest seeking of fut.”2
αἰτήματα – “a thing asked, or sought for; petition, request”1
γνωριζέσθω (Pres/Pass/Imper/3rd/Sing) – “to make known, reveal, declare”1
εἰρήνη – “peace, harmony, tranquility; safety, welfare, health”1
ὑπερέχουσα – “to hold above; intrans. to stand out above, to overtop; met. to surpass, excel… excellence, preeminence… to be higher, superior”1 “to rise above, to be superior, to surpass”2
φρουρήσει (Fut/Act/Indic) – “The word is a military term picturing soldiers standing on guard duty and refers to the guarding of the city gate from within, as a control on all who went out”3
νοήματα – “the mind, the understanding, intellect… the heart, soul, affections, feelings, disposition”1 “act of the will which issues from the heart”3


Hendriksen, William, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, pp. 194-97.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 663-64.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 322-25.

Mounce, Bill, Greek definitions found at as viewed on 5/20/2023.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

What have you assumed? – Job 3-7

Last week, we considered the fact that we don’t know everything that is going on. When a tragedy strikes, we often look for the reason why, but that isn’t always guaranteed. In Job’s case, he did not know that Satan was inflicting harm against him to prove a point. And he didn’t know that God had permitted this or that he was holding Satan back from killing Job. If he had known these things, he might have had a different perspective about his suffering. However, he did very well at the beginning and showed great loyalty to God. But even the best may falter at some point.

The next section of the book (Job 3-37) is dedicated to the back-and-forth between Job and his friends. Job’s pain drives him to say things that he would not normally say. His friends, who were at first there for his comfort, decide that Job’s situation is his own fault. The argument goes back-and-forth until God finally steps in the set things straight (Job 38-41). Before we get to the conclusion, let’s look at some of the things that Job and his friends said.

  1. Job’s painful thoughts (Job 3; 6-7)

    Have you ever been in pain and then blurted out a response that wasn’t called for? When the hammer hits your hand instead of the nail, when you didn’t sleep well last night, and when you are not feeling well—these are times when we may not be as guarded with our words. Job had just lost his wealth, children, and health. His current suffering was weighing heavily on him. It should come as no surprise that the words he says are not quite right.

    • He wished he had never been born (Job 3:11).
    • He admitted that his grief was affecting his speech (Job 6:2-3).
    • He would not concede that he had sinned (Job 6:22-24).
    • He could not understand why God was hurting him (Job 6:20).

    You can tell that Job was in great pain. His pain caused him to say things he shouldn’t have. But still the pain was there. Can you commiserate with Job? If you have been in pain, you know that your responses will be tainted. The longer the pain lingers, the more time you will have to begin questioning God’s love for you and the reasons for your suffering. Please be careful. God is actively caring for you even when you can’t see His hand in your life. We just need to trust Him because we don’t know all that is going on.

  2. Eliphaz’s painful assumptions (Job 4; 5)

    When I was younger, it was easy for me to judge situations. I “knew” what the problem was and was confident in the solution. Now that I am older and more experienced, I see that things are seldom as easy as I once thought they were. Problems are often complicated and not as easy to pinpoint. Eliphaz had come to comfort his friend. But after hearing Job’s pain-filled thoughts, he made some hasty assumptions.

    • He assumed Job was a hypocrite (Job 4:4-5).
    • He assumed that Job had sinned (Job 4:7-8).
    • He assumed that Job needed to repent (Job 5:17-18).
    • He assumed that God always protects the righteous (Job 5:19-21).

    “Eliphaz is like so many of us who give advice. We can tell someone else how he ought to do things, in a nice way, phrased in very attractive language, but what we say may not be accurate. … He said a lot of nice things, good things, true things, but he didn’t help Job.”1

    Were Eliphaz’s assumptions true? This is a tricky question. We know hypocritical people who are eager to help people but are unwilling to accept help when they need it. We know people who have sinned and faced the consequences. We also know that God wants people to repent, find forgiveness, and be restored to a right relationship with God. And, if we are honest, we do assume that God will protect those who are faithfully serving Him. These are pretty good assumptions. The only problem was that they didn’t apply to Job’s situation. Eliphaz didn’t know what God was doing behind the scenes.


We have looked at the responses of two people to suffering. From what I can see, neither of them was quite right. Job’s pain loosened his tongue but didn’t open his eyes to what God was doing behind the scenes. He questioned God’s handling of his situation and couldn’t understand why he was going through it. Job’s friend wasn’t very helpful although his motives were good. His many assumptions were generally true but they didn’t apply to Job. Eliphaz assumed that all trouble was judgment from God. But this was not the case. I think that we could learn something from the mistakes both men made.

From Job, we can learn several lessons:

• We should ask God for grace to endure suffering when it comes.
• We should ask God to guard our speech when influenced by pain.
• We should trust that the Lord is doing what is best despite what we can see.

From Eliphaz, we can learn several lessons:

• We don’t know why bad things happen.
• We don’t know if suffering is judgment from God.
• We don’t know everything that God is doing behind the scenes.

It is easy to look at Job and Eliphaz and see their mistakes. But it is much more difficult to handle it when it happens to us. Instead of speaking hastily or judging hastily, let’s assume that God is in control and that there are some things that he hasn’t revealed to us. We don’t know why things happen. But we do know that God is good and is always doing what is best in every situation.


1 McGee 595, 599.


McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. II, Joshua through Psalms, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 592-601.

Zuck, Roy, Job, Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, pp. 22-42.

Examples of Worldliness Today – Part 1

In a recent message, Responding to a worldly Christian, we discussed the definition of worldliness according to 1 John 2:15-17. In that passage, we saw that worldliness includes the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We also saw that worldliness has bad results: It replaces our love for God, makes us an enemy of God, and pollutes our lives. Today, I would like us to consider some modern examples of worldliness which Christians face today.

  1. The lust of the flesh

    What is a biblical example of this?

    In Proverbs 5, Solomon gives his son a straightforward warning against the temptation of sexual immorality. In verses 1-6, he warns that the immoral woman’s lips drip with honey (she is enticing) but her path leads to bitterness, pain, and death. In verses 7-14, he warns to stay away from her house because you will regret the outcome. In verses 15-20, he encourages his son to be satisfied with his own wife and not to share her with others. In verses 21-23, he reminds his son that the Lord is watching his actions and that these sins will entrap him.

    Joseph is a good example of fleeing temptation (Gen. 39:7-20). When his master’s wife tried to seduce him, he boldly told her this was a sin against his master and against God. When she tried to force him into the act, Joseph fled the scene leaving his outer garment in her hands. While his integrity was not rewarded by his master, he did the right thing.

    King David is a bad example in this area (2 Sam. 11). He gave in to the lust of the flesh and committed adultery with Uriah’s wife. Although he had several wives already (several!), he noticed Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop and arranged for her to join him in the bedroom. This one moment of immoral passion led to deceit, murder, and the death of the child. Was it worth it? David would tell you it was not.

    Where does this confront Christians today?

    Today, there are many ways that sexual immorality confronts Christian men and women.

    A first example is pornography. Satan and the world have been using pictures, videos, or literature to promote the sinful lust of the flesh. It wouldn’t be helpful to go into much detail here. But are you aware that this type of material is readily available on your phone, computer, and television? The lust of the flesh is a tricky thing. It can start with a small temptation and then develop into something much worse. It is better to set boundaries against such things. Once you know that there is a temptation somewhere, stay away from that area.

    Psalm 103:3 – “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

    A second example is relationships. There are some desires that should only be fulfilled in the marriage relationship. When a person is unmarried, this is not permissible. But when a single person gets emotionally involved with another person before marriage, it is difficult to hold back those desires as God intended. The same can be said for married people. When a husband or wife are not getting along, they can begin to seek emotional fulfillment from other people. This can often be a temptation for intimacy that should be reserved only for marriage. This is why Christians need to guard their relationships with the opposite sex. Setting limits on relationships may seem extreme to some but it is better to be careful than to regret not being so.

    1 Corinthians 7:1-3 – “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

    A third example is homosexuality. For those who have not experienced this temptation, it may come as a surprise that this would be on the list. Are Christians tempted by homosexuality, transgenderism, or other such sins? The answer is yes. When pornography or adultery are not enough to satisfy the lusts of the flesh, some are tempted to try deviant sexual behavior. The lust of the flesh is a strong drive. When self-control is not strong and the opportunity arises, some have given in to this sin.

    Romans 1:26-27 – “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

    This passage in Romans describes the downward spiral of those who reject God’s ways. I think it is referring to those who do not know God. But the same results can come to Christians when they refuse to follow God’s plan for sexual intimacy. What God intended for good can be distorted leading to a lifestyle which does not please God.


There is more that could be discussed, I am sure. But we need to address one more thing. How can you keep yourself from giving in to the lust of the flesh? What kind of safeguards will you put into place to guard yourself from this temptation?

1. Keep yourself from media that tempts you.

Do you have romance novels, television programs, movies, magazines that cater to the lust of the flesh? Do the right thing and get rid of them. Stop reading those books and magazines. Stop watching those videos, movies, and television programs. If something causes you to be tempted, it is better to remove it than to have those thoughts in your mind.

2. Keep yourself from relationships that tempt you.

Do you have relationships before marriage or during marriage that are a temptation to you? It would be good to guard yourself against becoming emotionally or physically involved with someone who is not your husband or wife. Be satisfied with what God has provided you and keep yourself from anything that will tempt you to go outside of the protective walls He has designed for you.

3. Keep yourself close to the Lord.

We often want to have “how to” answers for avoiding temptation. If you do this, you will avoid temptation. The lust of the flesh has a way of getting around safeguards. But there is one thing that will always help you—a close relationship with the Lord. When you are reading your Bible, seeking to please Him, praying and submitting to His will, it will be much more difficult to give into temptation.

With God’s help, you can enjoy your life the way God designed it to be. But the temptation to do other things is often there. Will you commit yourself to the Lord and practice self-control this week. If you do, God will bless your life and help you to avoid giving in to the temptations that you face this week.

Be joyful and gracious – Philippians 4:4-5

After giving the Philippian Christians a pep talk about pressing on for the Lord, standing firm in the Lord, and having good relationships with other Christians, Paul now lightens up a bit. In verses 4-9, he gives several small but important instructions for us to follow. They are: rejoice in the Lord (4), be gracious (5), pray to God (6-7), meditate on good things (8), and follow good examples (9). We will look at two of these this morning.

  1. Rejoice in the Lord (4).

    People are looking for reasons to be happy. Buying a car, getting a promotion at work, going on a vacation, and many other things often make us happy for a time. But these periods of happiness don’t seem to last. When the happy event is over, we wonder how to get it back. When Paul tells us to always rejoice in the Lord, it is not the same as telling us to be happy all the time. It is something more substantial.

    What does it mean to rejoice?

    Paul uses the Greek word Χαίρετε to make this statement. It means to “rejoice, be glad.”1 It is something that should become “a continual and habitual action.”2 But even this definition is not quite good enough. I think that biblical joy is a deep-seated emotion of gladness which comes from knowing God and from considering what He has done for us.

    One commentator states that “joy is something we cannot produce ourselves; it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.”4 While joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, we are still commanded to do it. If we have no way of gaining this joy, why then are we commanded to be joyful? Perhaps it is best to understand that we work in tandem with the Holy Spirit. He does produce joy in our hearts as we submit to Him, but we must consciously make the choice to remain joyful.

    What should we rejoice about?

    I recently heard about the unexpected death of a young woman in a nearby town. When things like this happen, how can we find anything to rejoice about? It would seem disingenuous to be joyful or happy after such an occurrence. We are not called to sing and smile nonstop. Doing so after a tragedy would be very odd. But during those times, we are given the opportunity to find joy in something outside of our circumstances.

    During our Wednesday evening prayer meetings, we have been studying the life of Job. Think for a moment about what happened to him. Because of Satan’s false claims against Him, Job lost all of his wealth and his ten children on the same day. He later lost his health. Even so, he was still able to bless the name of the Lord after these tragedies occurred. Consider two passages from the Book of Job.

    Job 1:21 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

    Job 2:9-10 – “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

    So where did Job’s joy come from? Did he enjoy the pain and loss? Of course not. And yet he was still able to have a calm, abiding joy during his troubles. Where does joy come from during tragedies? I believe Paul tells us the answer. He tells us to rejoice in the Lord. He is the only one who can give us joy all the time. I would like to share two ideas about finding joy in the Lord.

    First, there is joy in knowing who God is. This seems to be the key to everything. God is often understood as some implacable deity who is sending people to Hell as quickly as possible. However, those who know Him best know that He is good, loving, compassionate, caring, merciful, gracious, and much more. When you read through the Bible, do you notice how people interacted with God? Enoch walked with God. He knew Him well and enjoyed the relationship. Abraham was the friend of God and willingly left his home in Ur to move to the Promised Land. Why did he do this? He did it because he knew the character of God and loved Him. David was a man after God’s own heart and wrote many psalms praising God. He even said that he would like to remain in God’s house all the time because He loved God so much. The point is that when you know God, you will marvel at His character. And those who know Him find joy in knowing who He is.

    Second, there is joy in experiencing a relationship with God. It is one thing to know about God from reading the Bible. It is altogether something different to actually experience a relationship with Him. When I was younger, I knew about the Lord. I knew Bible verses by heart and could quote them, but I didn’t know Him. When God opened my eyes, it all changed. I began to read the Bible and see God on every page. I saw how He loved me, answered my prayers, comforted me, directed me, and much more. It has now been over thirty years and I have learned to trust the Lord completely.

    Do you know the Lord like this? When you know who God is and have experienced a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus, you will always have something to be joyful about. You know God! He is good! He has saved you from Hell! He has changed your life! He has a home in heaven prepared for you! No matter what happens today, you can find joy in knowing the Lord and trusting Him each moment of your life.

    Why do we have to be reminded to rejoice?

    Did you notice that Paul repeats the statement in verses four. He tells us twice that we should rejoice in the Lord. “Sometimes the trials and pressures of life make it almost impossible to be happy. But Paul did not tell his readers to be happy. He encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord. In fact, he said it twice in verse 4. … Surely there are many circumstances in which Christians cannot be happy. But they can always rejoice in the Lord and delight in Him.”3 Always and in all circumstances, find your joy in God Himself.

  2. Be gracious (5).

    The second statement we will cover today is about being gracious. When my chickens and ducks are together, they are mostly peaceful. But occasionally, a chicken will decide to peck a duck’s tail feathers out. Or an older duck will attach the younger ducks. If you were to follow me out each day, you would hear me saying, “Be nice!” The same thing can be said to Christians today. We need to be nice to other people whenever possible.

    What does moderation/gentleness mean?

    Paul used the Greek words τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν to make this statement. It means “reasonableness in judging. The word signifies a humble, patient [steadfastness], which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace, and maltreatment without hatred and malice, trusting in God in spite of all of it.”2 We might also use the word gracious. When dealing with other people, we should be kind, selfless, and willing to yield our personal feelings when we are dealing with others. If you are gracious toward others, they will notice that despite any differences of opinion.

    We should note that this isn’t a command to give in to everything anyone ever says. That would lead to a lot of trouble. The company I work for provides transportation for railroad crews. When someone complains to one of our drivers about a perceived problem, I instruct them to talk slowly and kindly to the passenger. “Sir, I understand your concern and it will be addressed as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would appreciate your patience. I’ll do my best to get this taken care of as quickly as possible.”

    I recall an issue one passenger had with one of our vans. He was loading his luggage into the back of a van when he noticed a full-size wheel in the back of the van. He was concerned that during an accident the wheel could hit him in the head. A manager was nearby and addressed the situation. “Alright, I’ll take care of this. Sir, please take your seat in the vehicle. And, driver, don’t get into any accidents.” His quick and gracious response took the heat out of the situation and allowed the trip to be completed. I have admired him for that ever since.

    When Christians are gracious toward others, it is not a sign of weakness but of consideration toward the other person. With the right mindset it is possible to be “firm as a rock in respect of moral principle”6 but still gracious toward the other person.

    Why should we be known for this?

    Read the verse again. One reason for being gracious is that “all men” are watching. “Joy, an inner quality in relation to circumstances, may not always be seen; but the way one reacts to others—will be noticed.”3 People are influenced by the way that we interact with others. Are we joyful people who show the characteristics of the Lord in our daily conversations? Are we gracious or contentious? I think about this often as I am driving. Is my reaction to other drivers a good example of the character God is seeking to produce in my life? Am I gracious or overbearing? The same thing can be true about our differences with other Christians. The way we handle those differences will be seen by both Christians and those who have not yet believed. So we must be especially gracious because of the way our actions affect others.

    What does the Lord being near have to do with our graciousness?

    The last part of the verse almost seems out of place. Paul tells us that “the Lord is at hand.” There are two ways to understand this phrase. “The word could imply ‘near in space’ or ‘near in time.'”2

    In the first idea, Paul could be telling us to be gracious because the Lord is nearby watching how we respond. This is a good point. If the Lord is nearby, would you be ashamed to react that way? My “Jesus Saves” ballcap often makes me consider my actions in the same way. How I respond will affect the way that message is received. The same is true if I am consciously remembering that Jesus is with me every moment of the day. He is there to observe but also to help in those tricky relationships with others.

    In the second idea, Paul could be telling us to be patient because Jesus will return soon. “The idea seems to be: since Christ’s coming is near, when all the promises made to God’s people will become realities, believers, in spite of being persecuted, can certainly afford to be mild and charitable in their relation to others.”5 In other words, be patient and gracious because this circumstance is temporary. The Lord will return soon and our troubles will be over. That can be both comforting and convicting. It is comforting to know that it won’t last forever. But it is convicting because every Christian will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to answer for his work for the Lord. Have I been gracious in my dealings with people? Gracious like the Lord has been with me? It makes you think, doesn’t it?


What God inspired Paul to write is important. It is more of an attitude than an action. So let’s ask ourselves two questions. First, have I been having a good attitude during the ups and downs of life? God wants us to develop a joy in knowing Him and trusting Him. His goodness to us should fill us with joy that no circumstances can take away. Second, have I been a gracious person to others? God wants each of us to be kind and considerate toward others. As we develop this characteristic, we will become more like the Lord and will be a good example to those who are influenced by our attitudes.


1 Bauer 873-74.
2 Rienecker 560.
3 Lightner 663.
4 McGee 320.
5 Hendriksen 194.
6 Moule 111.


Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans by William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker, etc., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

Hendriksen, William, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, pp.192-94.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 663.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, p. 320-22.

Moule, H. C. G., The Epistle to the Philippians, Cambridge: The University Press, 1889, pp.111-12.

Rienecker, Fritz, and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

What do you know? — Job 2

There used to be a radio program on NPR called “Whadya know?” The show always started with the host asking the question and the audience answering back with, “Not much!” I used to listen to that program every Saturday morning. It was filled with humor and stories of interest, as well as a quiz program that was quite interesting. As we come to Job chapter 2, I am reminded that there is not much that we know about what God is doing in this world.

  1. There are things happening behind the scenes (2:1-6).

    In this chapter (and the last) God reveals what is happening in heaven (behind the scenes). Apparently, the sons of God (maybe angels) came before the Lord to present to Him what they had accomplished. If we had not been told in this book, would any of us know that? Probably not. However, we learn here that Satan (a rebel angel) chose to present himself before the Lord along with the others.

    The conversation between the Lord and Satan is similar to chapter one. The Lord asks Satan if he had considered the faithfulness of Job. But this time He includes the fact that Job had remained faithful even though Satan had taken his wealth and children from him. Notice that the Lord points out Satan’s unjust desire to harm Job. There was no cause.

    Satan (who does not understand the goodness of God or why a human would love and serve the Lord) replied that Job was only holding on to his faith in God because he still had his life. He uses the statement, “Skin for skin!” This “was a proverbial saying, possibly about bartering or trading animal skins. Satan insinuated that Job had willingly traded the skins (lives) of his own children because in return God had given him his own skin (life).”1 Satan seems to imply that Job only served God for the benefits (wealth, children, and health). If God were to remove Job’s health, Satan proposed, he would curse God to His face.

    For purposes which are never revealed, the Lord allowed Satan to attempt to prove his theory about Job. He told Satan that he could take away Job’s health but not his life. All of this took place behind the scenes, without Job’s knowledge. God was holding Job up as an example of faithfulness to the wicked one while Satan was conniving to destroy Job’s faith in the Lord. At this point, we need to remember that God is good, that Satan is always evil, and that there are somethings happening behind the scenes that we may never understand. But we still need to trust in the Lord.

  2. There are troubling things happening to people (2:7-8).

    Job, who was steel reeling from the shock of losing his accumulated wealth and all of his children, suddenly contracted a terrible disease which included boils across his entire body. “Some scholars say the disease may have been smallpox; others say it was elephantiasis.”2 “It is singular in the Hebrew, a ‘burning sore.’ Job was covered with one universal inflammation.”3 The same word is used of the plague of boil on the Egyptians and what King Hezekiah experienced. Without being there, it is hard to feel his pain. But it must have been terrible when you consider how his wife and friends responded. As he sat there in pain, all he could do is scratch his sores with a potsherd, “a fragment of a broken vessel.”4

    At this point, it would be good to remember that Job knows nothing about what was happening behind the scenes. He didn’t know that the loss of his wealth, children, and now his health, were part of a test forced upon him by Satan with God’s permission. All he knows is that he has lost everything except his wife and that he has contracted a painful disease which he has no power to remove. This is what Job knew. This is what his wife knew. This is what his friends knew. That is all.

    When we respond to a tragic situation based only on our own knowledge or experience, we are liable to think, say, or do things that are not wise. What we know is very limited. What we have learned by experience is very limited. This is where we need to remember that God is good, Satan is evil, and we really don’t know why things happen. Bad experiences can taint our trust in the Lord, but if we submit to God’s will and “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart,” we will be better able to have peace when these troubling times come.

  3. There are reasons to keep trusting the Lord (2:9-10).

    We really don’t know much about Job’s wife except what is written in this verse. What we do know is that she bore him ten children and also lost all ten in the same day. We do know that she has experienced the same loss of wealth that her husband did. And now her husband is on what seems to be his death bed. She has nothing at this point and has become bitter. But try to be slow to judge her. These experiences were very difficult for her as well.

    Moved by her grief, his wife asked Job why he was still trusting in the Lord. Why wouldn’t he just curse God for what had happened and then die? “It may be that the strength of her usual virtue and piety was overcome by accumulated calamities.”5 Note that she was only looking at what she could see. She didn’t know of Satan’s wicked plan for her family. She didn’t know of God’s plan for her husband. All she knew was the pain she was experiencing. And her words show her great bitterness.

    From his sickbed, Job responds with wise and reflective words. He tells his wife that her statement about cursing God sounds like something a foolish person would say. The word for foolish woman is “nabal, ‘spiritually ignorant or non-discerning.”6 Remember Nabal who was an adversary to David while he was hiding from King Saul? Her response was foolish. But he doesn’t just insult her and leave her crying, he speaks truth to her. Shouldn’t we be willing to accept good from God as well as adversity? Job stated this because he believed it. His faith in the Lord was great and he showed his faith by not speaking sinful words as he went through his great suffering.

    How was it that Job refused to succumb to his circumstances? Over his life, Job had learned to trust the Lord in good and bad times. We are not told what experiences led him to have such great faith, but we can think about our own knowledge of God. What is it about God that makes us love, trust, and serve Him. I have been thinking about this recently. Why is it that we can think that the Lord is good no matter what happens? You might think that it is based on what He has done for us. As Christians, God has forgiven us of our sins, saved us from the coming judgment, and adopted us into His family. But others could look at these same things and think that God is bad because he doesn’t let people live the way they want, sin without judgment, and enjoy life without Him. Why do we have a different view of God? I think that it has to go beyond what God has done to Who God is. We love Him because we know Him to be good, loving, caring, helping, listening, wise, and much more. We don’t just love Him because of what He has done but for Who He is.


There have been and will be times during which we will experience great grief. Some of us have gone through that in recent times. There have also been times where we have experienced great blessings and happiness. In either case, our experience is limited to what we know and have experienced. We don’t know what God has been doing behind the scenes. We don’t know how often Satan has tried to destroy us and God has held him back. Matthew Henry said, If God did not chain up the roaring lion, how soon would he devour us!” How true that is.

As you go through this week, remind yourself that God is good and that you don’t know all that is happening behind the scenes. What you know is what you have experienced and that is a limited perspective that can’t be counted on to explain everything that happens. Remind yourself of God’s good character, be aware of Satan’s desire to destroy you, and trust in God to take you through the ups and down of life.


1 Zuck 721.
2 Zuck 721.
3 Jamieson
4 Barnes
5 Barnes
6 Zuck 721.


Barnes, Albert, Barnes Notes on the Bible, as viewed in PocketBible.

Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary On the Whole Bible, as viewed in PocketBible.

Zuck, Roy B., “Job” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, pp. 721-22.