This Is About God

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take….”
Job 23:8-10a

When this devotion was originally published, St. Patrick’s Day was just about a week prior.

One of the most famous of St. Patrick’s writings is the prayer known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.”

Part of that prayer says,

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ within me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ at my right, Christ at my left

What an incredible prayer and confession of faith! We go nowhere without Christ! What sweet comfort this is!

But in chapter 23, Job makes a more dismal confession.

He does not see God in front of him or behind him. He does not see God on his left or on his right.

Job – understandably – feels totally alone.

No Christian need ever feel this way since Christ has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

But everyone feels this way at some time or another.

The reality is that for those who fear (believe in) God, there is no such thing as being totally alone.

We may feel like we are, but we truly are not. God is always with us.

Again, Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Both Job and St. Patrick are correct. Christ is always with us. God will never leave us.

And even though Job has this feeling of profound absence, he also confesses that he’s not really alone!

“But he [God] knows the way that I take….”

Job’s confession is to be our confession – that this isn’t really about us but about God!

The rest of this chapter in Job is a prime example of what you will feel if you focus more on yourself and what you are going through than on God who is your Redeemer and Savior.

We simply cannot trust our feelings.

It may feel like God is not with us when we are going through trials and tribulations.

But it simply isn’t true! God is, always has been, and always will be, with us!

When you feel lonely, when you feel – in your heart – abandoned by God, remember this truth:

Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20).

It is during times of despair that we need to trust in God the most that “he knows everything.” Job is our model of this kind of faith.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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The Strange Work of God

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.”
Job 22:21

I see the meme’s nearly every day on Facebook.

It is a picture of a huge pile of cash. And the text says, “If you share this post, this cash will come to you within three days.”

If only!

But it doesn’t work that way. The truest meme I saw on Facebook recently said, “If you want cash to come your way … go to work today!”

There are many people who see God as some kind of genie in a lamp. If you ask him for something, and you are a “good” person, then he will give it to you.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who read Job 22:21 above and assume that is exactly what Eliphaz is saying.

But I am just as sure that God doesn’t work like that.

God is not a “wish granter” nor is God an ATM machine that we can go to when we need something and leave be when we don’t.

The truth is that God provides daily bread for all people – whether they believe in him or not. Jesus proclaimed the truth of this in Matthew 5:45, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Eliphaz doesn’t believe that. His philosophy is that God prospers the good and punishes the wicked.

And since Job has lost all his wealth (one estimate is that he lost the equivalent of $45 million) and suffered the death of his seven sons and three daughters all at once, and that he’s now covered in sores and on the verge of death himself – that Job must be one of the wicked!

But God doesn’t work that way!

There are several prominent Christian preachers who have distorted the truth of God and are leading people astray when they preach, “Trust in God and he will shower you with blessings of wealth and prosperity!”

God certainly will pour out his blessing on his people. But not because they do something for him. God pours out his love, mercy, and grace because he loves his people.

When we do good, this is in response to God’s love, not to earn it!

So what do we do with all this suffering? Especially when it is so unfair, like in Job’s case?

The Apology to the Augsburg Confession puts it so well:

“Troubles are not always punishments or signs of wrath. Indeed, terrified consciences should be taught that there are more important purposes for afflictions (2 Corinthians 12:9), so that they do not think God is rejecting them when they see nothing but God’s punishment and anger in troubles. The other more important purposes are to be considered, that is, that God is doing His strange work so that He may be able to do His own work…” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIIB, paragraph 61).

“Strange work” is an interesting phrase. Martin Luther – the 16th Century Reformer – used it to explain the use of bad things, bad circumstances, evil, illness, even death itself, to call people to repentance and back to God. The “strange work” is sometimes used to bring us to God’s proper work which is to save us by grace alone through faith alone!

Job’s friends don’t know this … yet. But Job does – or at least at this point suspects it. And he will know it in the end and will bring this truth to his three friends, as we will see later.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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The Free Gift

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?”
Job 21:7

One of my favorite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart.

It is a classic movie and extremely popular, not in the least because it ends well for George Bailey and his family.

But right before the ending of the movie is an excellent illustration of the wicked seemingly prospering! Mr. Potter gets away with his wicked deed at the end! He keeps the $8000 that Uncle Billy lost, subsequently prompting George to contemplate suicide.

In Job chapter 20 Zophar makes his point that only the wicked are punished by God.

I think what he meant was that the wicked do not prosper, and since Job is not prospering now, Job is, therefore, wicked.

In chapter 21 Job answers this by pointing out that by just opening your eyes you can see that in this life some who are wicked certainly do seem to prosper!

Observe the celebrity who has an affair with his co-star, leaves his wife and children, and moves in with her. He continues to get high-paying roles and accolades from his peers and adoration from his fans.

Observe the athlete who uses banned substances but continues to get high-paying and long-term contracts and is a favorite to be inducted into the hall of fame!

Even the driver way behind you in the long, long line of cars waiting to get past the construction on the tollway. She pulls out and drives on the shoulder, passing all the cars and then cuts back in at the head of the line.

Job makes quite the case about the truth of the matter that the wicked do seem to prosper in this life. He says that it happens everywhere! And from what I’ve observed, he’s right!

But Job knows that this life is not all there is to life. There is a life to come!

I encourage you to peek ahead in your Bibles, especially up in the New Testament. There you will see that Jesus Christ takes all the sins of all the people of all time and pays for them on the cross.

You and I are just as wicked as anyone else. But by the power of the Holy Spirit you have the opportunity to repent of your wickedness and receive the free gift of the forgiveness of sins and salvation of your soul!

Peek even further into the New Testament, in fact the last three chapters of the Bible. There you will see that the wicked will indeed perish and that those who have not rejected Christ will be saved and live forever in the new heaven and the new earth.

(This is just a summary of the very complex and deep language of Revelation 20-22, and not meant to be an exhaustive teaching on the subject.)

While it appears for all intents and purposes that the wicked get away with their sin and that the innocent and righteous tend to suffer more, this is not the final word.

God has the final word! When God made you his child in the waters of baptism and the means of grace, your name was written in the Book of Life. You have been given the free gift of eternal life! Unless you erase your name by rejecting Jesus, you will not suffer forever. You will be called out of this life to a place where there is no more tears, pain, sin, or death!

I pray that this comforts you now no matter what you are going through in this life.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Wicked Will Not Prosper

“…the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment.
Job 20:5

After Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, he envisioned a German Empire (Reich) that would last for 1000 years, and he imagined himself as the head of that Empire for many years to come.

He began to live as he felt a head of such an empire should live. He amassed great wealth for himself. He had several edifices he felt befitted a leader in his position.

Men of Easy Co. after the capture of Hitler’s Eagles Nest

One of them was in Berchtesgaden, Germany and called the Kehlsteinhaus, but more popularly known as “Hitler’s Eagles Nest.”

But his 1000 year Reich, which began in 1933 was gone by May of 1945, with the death of Hitler and the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Hitler was wicked, bringing war to the world in 1939 and instigating the murder of an estimated 6 million Jews and an additional 5 million more other ethnic and religious groups.

When Zophar tells Job that God’s wrath will fall on the wicked, he is correct.

Eventually.

All the wicked who do not turn away from their sin will suffer eternal damnation and separation from God in hell.

While it seems like the wicked prosper – and it certainly appeared so in the case of Hitler from 1933-45 – the wicked and their “success” do meet an end.

It’s easy to see someone like Hitler as wicked. Or someone closer to our own time like Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.

And while Zophar speaks to Job about the wicked that will eventually be punished by God, he means to say that Job needs to confess that he is, indeed, one of the wicked and is being punished by God. This is not true and Job knows it.

But what is true is that it doesn’t take actions of a Hitler or Bin Laden to be classified as wicked.

King David confessed what is true for all of us when he said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

We are all sinners and should suffer eternal damnation.

But God does not want this for anyone! God wants all to be saved and so he sent a Redeemer to save us.

Jesus Christ, true God and true man, took our sins on himself and suffered the wrath of God on the cross to make us clean and whiter than snow.

Rejection of Christ is the very definition of “wicked” and no matter what they may seem to accomplish in this life, they and their accomplishments will not last and will not do anything for them in the afterlife.

It is my prayer that the wicked will repent, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and turn from their wicked ways and life.

Each day, that is exactly what true, Biblical Christians do!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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In My Flesh I Shall See God

“…at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.
Job 19: 25b-26

There is something about knowing what will happen in the future that makes what’s happening in the present different.

The most common example I can think of is Fridays.

If you know that you have a weekend coming up – two full days off from the “9-5” of the work week – getting up for work on Friday morning is different, somehow.

That day of work before a day off tends to put an extra lilt in my step. I find that even after a full week of work, I have a little boost of energy on that day.

Your mileage may vary, as they say, but I suspect this is true for you as well.

I believe this is related to the fact that we humans have been created with a longer, more full, purpose than what can be contained in our lifetimes here on earth.

In other words, we have a future that extends beyond this life on earth.

As the Christian author and apologist C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” (Mere Christianity, 1952).

We have been created – originally – to live forever. The Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden corrupted that eternal nature by bringing sin into the world and death to humans.

But humans are still going to exist forever. There is a life after life.

What that life will be depends on whether or not we reject the Holy Spirit. If we end life here on earth with faith in Jesus Christ, we will live forever in the Paradise that Jesus himself is preparing (see John 14:1-3).

If someone rejects the Holy Spirit, the existence they will endure after this life cannot be called “life” but instead it is everlasting, eternal death.

It is important that we understand this now, during this life. And no matter what we are going through in this life.

We could be going through a bleak, dark time, but we must remember that there is life after this for those who have faith in Christ!

Job understood this. Even after the death of all ten of his children and losing all his earthly wealth, he understood that there is life after this life. Even while enduring painful sores and deteriorating health, Job looks to the life beyond this life.

In Job 19, he makes the great confession, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

He follows up this confession with his certainty that he will see the day that the Redeemer comes, or comes back.

In the New Testament era – that is, since the coming of Jesus – resurrection of the body has been an integral part of the Christian confession of faith and the proclamation of the Gospel.

This doesn’t mean that it was a message or concept that was introduced in the Christian era, however.

It is here in the Book of Job, in events that take place 1800 years before the birth of Christ!

So it is a truth that has been there since the very beginning, because it is what God created us for – to live forever!

Knowing this will help us get through everything we face in this earthly life. It is the hope that is sure and certain.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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“Thank You” Campaign under way for True Men Ministries!

The True Man

There are now three books in the series of “In My Father’s Footsteps” devotions.

Thank you for your contributions – that has certainly helped tremendously in our being able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through these books!

With today being the middle of the month, would you please consider a contribution to True Men Ministries?

We would like to update the website and produce more podcasts but we need your help!

Any contribution of $15 or more will also receive a signed copy of In My Father’s Footsteps, Volume 1.

A contribution of $35 or more will receive signed copies of all three volumes of devotions!

You can make a contribution here: https://www.gofundme.com/TrueMenMinistries

Thank you and God’s richest blessings to you!

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My Redeemer Lives

“I know that my Redeemer lives….”
Job 19: 25a

Here in the middle of Lent we get to the most “Easter” sounding phrase in the entire Book of Job. We will revisit this Easter phrase on … well, you guessed it … Easter!

But it comes practically in the middle of the Book of Job and gives us the first glimpse into the hope of Job.

Amidst all the black despair and death Job has dealt with, he never, ever, loses his hope in his ever-living Redeemer, God Almighty!

Powerful lesson in this for us. Never, ever, give up hope. No matter how bad things get, you have a Redeemer who lives!

Samuel Medley went through some pretty rough times himself.

He was the son of a teacher but his early education was by his grandfather. Samuel was born in a time when English boys who were not royalty or aristocracy would be “apprenticed” to gain education and a career.

Being an “apprentice” was little better than being an indentured servant or even a slave. Samuel was apprenticed to an oil-man in London who sold lamp oil and paraffin.

Samuel was never interested in this for a career and finally figured out how to get out of this situation after three years. He gained his freedom by enlisting in the Royal Navy.

Four years into his enlistment, he was severely wounded at the battle of Annus Mirabilis of 1759. (Ironically, a young slave named Olaudah Equiano also participated in the battle on the side of England. He would go on to win his freedom and, along with John Newton, would influence William Wilberforce in ending slavery in England.)

Severely wounded, with no prospects for a career, life was as bleak as could be for Samuel.

He was sent back to England to recover. He didn’t know what his future held, or even if he had a future. Then, he happened to pick up one of Isaac Watts’ published sermons.

The great hymn writer and preacher led to Samuel hearing about Jesus Christ and this forever changed Samuel’s life.

It would also touch our lives as well, for Samuel went on to become a preacher and hymn writer himself, eventually penning the words to the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”

This hymn contains the phrase from the Book of Job. The rest is all pure Easter Gospel!

I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.

He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high….

When your Redeemer lives, you will live! There is a plan and purpose for your life in this world and, of course, eternal life awaits you in heaven.

This life may get dark, bleak, downright awful.

But when your Redeemer lives, there is always hope, always purpose, and always light at the end!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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