June 4, 2014

Today you should read: Job 1:1-12

Welcome to the book of Job. This book of the Bible will incite many questions in our hearts and minds as we explore the suffering of Job and the wisdom and sovereignty of God. As we engage this book, it might be helpful to know some of the major themes of Job. The introduction to the Book of Job at Bible.org lists what I believe are the major themes that we’ll discover.

1. To demonstrate that God is worthy of love apart from the blessings He provides.
2. To explain that God may allow suffering as a means to purify and strengthen a person in godliness.
3. To emphasize that man is unable to view life from God’s vast perspective.
4. To explore the justice of God who treats the righteous with suffering.
5. To demonstrate to the evil angels (Satan) that God’s practice of blessing the righteous is not a hindrance to the development of true righteousness.
6. To address Mankind’s wrestling with affliction which defies human explanation.

At the very heart of this book is the concept of “suffering,” but is it the overarching theme? In reading some commentaries about Job, my thinking was challenged with these thoughts from BibeStudyCourses.org: “The overarching theme of the Book of Job is providing the correct answer to the question, ‘Why should a man serve God?’ Or, to put it another way, ‘What is the motivation of true devotion?’ This theme is evident from the very outset of the book when Satan raises the question, “Does Job fear God for no reason?”

That leads to part of our passage today, particularly verses 6-12. Satan came on the scene from “roaming about on the earth.” The indication is that he was looking for a life to destroy. God asked if he had considered Job, who, we learn from verses 1 and 8, was a God-fearing, blameless, upright man.

Satan quickly responded in verses 9, “does Job fear God for nothing?” Verse 10 explains what Satan meant. Satan made the claim that the only reason Job is so faithful is because he has had it easy and been blessed by God.

Then in verse 11, Satan said that Job would curse God to His face if God would put His hand against Job. So, in verse 12, God basically said, “OK, Satan, Job is all yours.” God gave Satan permission to bring suffering to Job in order to demonstrate some major principles, namely the six themes that I listed above, but ultimately to show why God is worthy to serve and to show the true motivation of devotion to Him.

So, tune in and engage this book with us. My hope is that we’ll gain a new appreciation for the sovereignty of God and a stronger motivation to be devoted to Him regardless of our circumstances.

Posted: Rich Duffield

June 3, 2014

Today you should read: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

“Get up: it’s time to get to work.” I heard this just about every weekend and every day of my summer break as a kid. I grew up on an 88 acre tobacco and cattle farm and work was never ending. I am pretty sure that my dad was hoping for a boy just so he could have free labor. If you have never done farm work then let me give you a bit of a glimpse into what it was like. It was usually hot, back breaking, labor intensive, dirty and time consuming. I was jealous of my friends from school who had parents with white collar jobs. They would talk about Saturday morning cartoons that they got to watch or going to the pool. I had to be up at 6:30 and in the field. I could not wait to grow up one day and make a lot of money and do nothing. Please know that I have respect for white collar jobs and many of my friends learned hard work from their parents as well in different ways. At the time however, my little immature elementary/middle school brain could not understand why I had to work so hard when it seemed like everyone else got to enjoy the comforts of life.

Something happened when I got into high school. I began to appreciate the lessons that I was learning from the farm. The sense of accomplishment that I got after putting in a hard day’s work and seeing progress happen. Also, the sense of satisfaction that I got from knowing that I was contributing to my family and learning to pave my own way in life. Work felt good and the lessons bled over to all other areas of my life.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15) Notice that this verse comes to us in Genesis 2 before the fall of man and sin entered the world. Work is a good thing and it glorifies our heavenly father. Many of us (especially in America) think of work as a result of the fall in Genesis 3:17-19. Yes work is hard and rest is a necessary and a grace from God. Yet, because of our sinful nature we can turn rest and comfort from a grace and make it our whole goal in life. The sin of idleness is big in our culture and the church is not immune to this sin.The Greek word used in this passage for idleness means, “in an undisciplined, irresponsible, or disorderly manner.” There are a few things that we can take from Paul’s warning about this sin to apply to our own lives.

1. An idle Christian is not a mature believer (v. 6).
Paul says that these brothers are not following in the example of the gospel that Paul set for them. This is convicting because if you are someone who is idle then you are not displaying the gospel to those around you. Working hard and being disciplined is a characteristic of our Lord Jesus that we should display also. Here are some questions to examine your heart in this area:

i. Do you do the bare minimum at work?
ii. When you see a need to you take care of it or wait for someone else to do it?
iii. How much time do you spend talking or on social media at work?
iv. Would your spouse say that you are helpful and reliable to do household chores?

What kind of work ethic are your children learning from you? Not what you tell them but what you show them?

2. Hard work shows love to others (v.7-9).
Paul as a minister could have taken payment for his ministry but chose not to in other to teach this lesson to the Thessalonians who struggled with idleness. When everyone pulls their weight then everyone benefits but when just one shirks their responsibility then everyone suffers.

Posted: Chad Wiles

June 2, 2014

Today you should read: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Do you remember the last time you were on a boat?  Maybe it was in the middle of a lake, or maybe it was on the ocean.  What did it feel like when the wind picked up and the waves crashed against the side of the ship?  Did you feel the boat rock back and forth?  Remember trying to keep your balance and how difficult it was to stand and keep from falling over when you first walked on board?

Throughout our lives, there are various times when it seems like the ground could collapse underneath our feet.  Maybe it’s the passing of a loved one, or the challenge of dealing with a difficult boss, or even a crisis of faith.  No matter what comes against us, when the wind howls and the waves rock to and fro, we have a Hope that we can stand secure in, and His name is Jesus.

In today’s passage, Paul is reminding the new believers in Thessalonica of the very same thing. Paul reminds them of the salvation to which they were called and what that salvation affords them – “so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Now, in light of their salvation, in v.15, Paul challenges them then to “stand firm” and to remember the things that they were taught by Paul and the others — to remember the gospel.

In the greek, the word to “stand firm” has a weight of endurance and perseverance, to persevere in godliness and righteousness.  The same word is used elsewhere in scripture in similar challenges:

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Paul’s challenge to the Thessalonians and others is to stand firm in the midst of persecution and trials.  Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have obtained a hope that is unshakable, a firm foundation.  But Paul’s challenge isn’t only to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It is for us to take the actions necessary to stand firm in our salvation, to set our feet on firm ground that does not shake when the waves crash against it, to abide in Christ, to fight to maintain our gaze on the one who is our hope, our sure remedy.

How will you stand firm today?  How will you continue to stand firm this week? This month? This year?

Take a minute to listen to David Crowder’s “Remedy” and praise God for the hope we have in Him; that because of His death and resurrection, we can stand firm.

Posted: Wes Brooks, West Campus Worship Intern

May 31, 2014

Today you should read: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

There are many Christians who are enamored with the return of Christ and the end of days. We have seen books, movies and whole church movements come from the study and sometimes obsession with Eschatology (the study of the end times and Jesus’ return). We should all be very excited, watchful and hopeful for a speedy return from the Lord, but we cannot allow it to so over take our thoughts and theology that we forget to live this life and share the gospel. I have spoken with many folks who are deeply involved in this movement, and it seems that all they want to read or talk about are parts of the Bible that deal with the end of days and judgment. These are, more often than not, the folks holding up signs and shouting out to people condemnation and judgment and that the end is near. When we think this way we miss so much of Scripture. We miss living a holy, blameless life. We miss serving others and being the light of the world. I could go on and on but the point is this…

Be ready and watchful for Jesus to come back, but be doing something when He gets here

This doesn’t mean just busy work, but we have a mission and a calling. Paul gives us the clear signs to look for to know when the end is near. We may be there or we may not. Either way, be ready, but be busy about the Lord’s work and enjoy this life. Life is a gift and it is meant to be enjoyed.  There is a Chris Rice song that comes to mind when I think of this idea called “Nonny Nonny” It is from the CD “Run the Earth and Watch the Sky” I think that is a great way to put it. We should all be running the earth while watching the sky. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZqVKYNps6g

Posted: Robbie Byrd