Archive for September, 2010

One Handful or Two?

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Ecclesiastes is full of very simple truths.  This simple truth tells us that it is better to just have one handful with quietness than it is to have two handfuls with “travail and vexation of spirit.”  It is better to have something on the inside than it is to have something on the outside.  It is better to have a little and have peace than it is to have a lot and have all kinds of problems.

How often do we get greedy of gain and forfeit our peace of mind for it?  It is our nature to always want more and more.  It is our nature to never be satisfied with what we have.  Greed is ingrained in our flesh and is the close cousin of pride. 

We have all read the stories of the richest men in the world who have killed themselves or gone into depression.  Rich and famous movie and music stars often have serious problems with drug use and depression.  Those in the world wonder how this could be- these people have “everything.”  They have money and they have fame.  But, as the old saying goes, “money can’t buy happiness.” 

Those who know the Lord and know the Bible know the answer to this riddle: how can these rich and famous people not be happy?  They have “both the hands full.”  They have everything the world says that they need.  But they are not satisfied.  While they may have “both the hands full”, they also have travail and vexation of spirit.  They don’t know peace.

We may not have everything that we think we want, but if we have the “peace that passes all understanding”, we have something that most people in this world will never know.

A handful with quietness really is better than both hands full with vexation of spirit.

Wisdom > Folly

Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

Ecclesiastes 2:13

Nobody would ever dare to argue that foolishness is better than wisdom.  Nobody would actually say that being a fool is superior to being wise.  But how often do people (ourselves included) live like there is something great about folly and something not desirable about wisdom?

This verse tells us that “wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.”  Not only is wisdom better than folly, but wisdom is so much better than folly that you really can’t even compare the two.  The comparison between light and darkness is one of obvious contrast.  There is absolutely nothing light about darkness and there is absolutely nothing dark about light.  As such, there is an infinite chasm between wisdom and folly.  There is no wisdom at all in foolishness and there is no folly in wisdom.  The two ideas, like light and darkness, are mutually exclusive.  You are either going to have one or the other.

Wisdom is so far superior to darkness that it really seems redundant to keep writing about it.  But how often does our weak human nature tend toward foolishness?  Even as Christians who know the end of folly and know the greatness of wisdom, how often do we find ourselves buried in folly and far from wisdom?  I don’t know about you, but I battle it daily.  May we ask the Lord to help us live a life of wisdom and to avoid the folly that seems to present itself at every turn in our lives!

The Breath of God

By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened.

Job 37:10

Personally, I love the imagery that the Bible provides in many places.  I did a short series on this blog about the imagery in Isaiah 37.  There are a number of verses in the book of Job in which God gives us some wonderful pictures.  Our mortal minds are always going to have trouble really grasping any concepts of God and of eternity.  Our minds are finite and thus not able to accurately frame the vastness and power of the Lord.  I think that God gives us this imagery to help us get a tiny glimpse of Himself.

This verse jumped out at me, as I enjoy cool weather and I am looking forward to the first frost of the year.  “By the breath of God frost is given.”  Frost is such a beautiful thing.  When you go outside on a crisp fall morning, you see a beautiful blanket of white crystals covering everything.  It imparts a blueish-white tint to everything. 

Think of the ground being blanketed by a layer of frost and then think of this verse: “By the breath of God frost is given.”  I can imagine God breathing and covering a vast area with frost.  His breath touches and tints everything.  It is not spotty and “hit or miss.”  It is everywhere all at once.  It covers everything.

As I was thinking about the title of this post, it occurred to me that “God-breathed” is used to define the word “inspiration” in terms of the Bible being inspired or “God-breathed.”  You could make several applications there, not the least of which would be that God’s Word should “blanket” our lives. It should touch everything in our lives.  It should be “new every morning.”  It should not just cover “our yard”, it should touch all of those around us. 

You can make your own applications, but I just love reading about and thinking about the God of creation.

God Working With Man

Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

Job 33:29-30

To me, there are several encouraging things about these verses.  The obvious truth is that the Lord works both in us and in our lives to bring us to Himself.  That is, in itself, a great truth – that God would work in our lives at all.  But there are a few other things in this passage that should be noted as well.

1. God uses different things to work with us and in us.
-“All these things worketh God oftentimes with man…”  God uses different things to work on different people.  In fact, God may use different things to work on the same person at different times.  As we work with people, it is important to remember this example.  We need to work with people as God does- as individuals. 

2. He works with us for our own good.
-“To bring back his soul from the pit…”  God is merciful and longsuffering.  He is “not willing that any should perish…”  Even when He has to chastise us, it is for our own good to bring about the “peacable fruit of righteousness.”  He wants to help us and He wants the best for us.  That is an important thing to remember as God is doing things in our lives that we may not understand.

3. God works with men.
-What an amazing thought!  God- the Creator of the universe, works with man.  He doesn’t just save us and then leave us to ourselves.  He continues to work in us and around us to keep us close to Himself.  If we stray from Him and rebel, He doesn’t immediately destroy us.  He keeps working with us until we come back to Him.  What a wonderful Saviour!

A Child of the King (Hymn)

A Child of the King
Harriet E. Buell (1877)

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King.

My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His when He comes by and by.


I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.


A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They’re building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I’m a child of the King.

I love this truth- that I really am a “child of the King.”  If the cares of this life start to get you down, that is something in which to take comfort.  I really love the third verse: “I once was an outcast stranger on Earth, a sinner by choice, an alien by birth, But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down, an heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.”  Amen.

Truth and Deliverance

He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

Job 33:27-28

Here, once again, we see the simple truth that God destroys the proud, but has mercy on the humble penitent.  Honestly, all of us are in the situation described in verse 27: we have all sinned, we have all perverted that which was right, and none of us have profited from it.  That verse describes every human being in the entire world.  Not one person is able to escape that verse.

But how often do we not confess that to the Lord?  How often do we find people who are filled with pride and refuse to admit any of those things?  How often is the one filled with pride us?  It’s not an easy thing to admit that we have sinned and that our sin did not profit us.  But that is what the Lord is looking for.  “He looketh upon men…”  He is looking for those who will confess to the things mentioned and will humbly ask for mercy. 

Those who will confess that they are sinners and they have not done right and that they need Him will find Him and will find His mercy.  As verse 28 says, “He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.”  That really is the Gospel in a nutshell: “I am a sinner and have not done right; only Jesus can help me.

What a great and simple truth and what a great and merciful Saviour!

Sticks and Stones

Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?

Job 19:1-2

As the old saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Of course, not all old sayings are good ones.  I think this is an old saying that needs to be “put out to pasture.”  It is simply not true.  The first part of the saying tells us that “sticks and stones may break my bones” is true.  Sticks and stones can indeed break our bones.  But words most definitely can hurt us.  Many times, they can hurt us more than the sticks and stones.

So it with Job in this passage of Scripture.  He has lost everything that he had valued.  He is sitting in ashes, covered with boils.  And instead of trying to help, comfort and encourage him, his friends decide to rail on him.  They accuse him of being an evil man.  They accuse him of all kinds of sins.  They accuse him of being, at best, a prideful hypocrite.  He is none of the above.  But still they continue on with their verbal lashings.

In chapter 19, Job again answers their comments and makes a statement that really stuck out to me: “how long will ye… break me in pieces with words?”  These men, who were supposed to be Job’s friends, were breaking him in pieces with their words.  I’m sure we all know of someone who has been “broken in pieces with words.”  After reading this, I have prayed that the Lord would never let me break someone in pieces with my words.  What a horrible thought – that our words, which could comfort and help, might break someone to pieces. 

Let our words be encouraging and edifying, not designed to tear others down and “break them in pieces.”  As it says in James, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.”  Let’s make sure our words do the right things.

Pleading With God

O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!

Job 16:21

After I first read this verse, I started thinking about it.  Some verses lend themselves to more than one application, and this is one of those verses, to me.  I will write about one today and the other tomorrow.  I’m sure that there are many applications to this verse and most others, which is one of the most amazing things about the Bible.  Ten people can read a passage and the Lord will speak to each of them a little differently from it, bringing out and highlighting different things.  As I have learned from this blog, even just seeing a verse from a slightly different perspective can really bring out something some of us hadn’t thought of before.  Anyway.

My first thought about this verse was that we should be the ones “pleading for a man with God.”  We plead with people all of the time.  We try to get them to espouse our political views or our favorite sports teams or any on of a number of various things.  But how often do we really plead with God “for a man?”  There are many people that we know who don’t know Jesus.  How are doing at pleading with God for them?  There are Christians we know who are not living like Christians and have fallen into “the snare of the devil.”  (II Timothy 2:26)  How are we doing at pleading with God for them?  Even our Christian friends who seem to have everything together may be facing some trial or temptation unknown to us.  How are doing at pleading with God for them?  It’s a convicting question.  When you think about it, everyone that we know needs our prayers.  As long as we are human, we are going to need prayer and we are going to need God’s help.

Are there people in our lives today whose problems are crying out “O that one might plead for a man with God?”  Let us always be in a spirit of prayer and pleading for those who need it!


…miserable comforters are ye all.

I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.  But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

Job 16:2b, 4-5

Job’s friends were “miserable comforters.”  They saw Job in his distress, and, instead of helping, comforting and encouraging him, they piled on him – accusing him of sin and telling him how angry God was with him. 

In these verses, Job says that, if their roles were reversed, he could be like them.  He could point out all of their faults and flaws.  He could accuse them of being hypocrites.  Basically, he could kick them while they were down; as they had done to him.  But, being the righteous man that he was, Job says that he would not do that.

Instead, in verse 5, he tells them that he would strengthen them with his mouth and “asswage” their grief with his speech.  I don’t know why, but I like the word “asswage”; it means simply to settle down or to subside.  Job is telling his friends that he would want to help them, encourage them and calm their grief.  That should be the way we treat others.  We should not be looking to pass judgment on people, but we should be looking to help them.  The best way to help anyone is to point them to Jesus.  Whatever it is that they may be going through, He is always the answer. 

Are we going to live our lives like Job’s friends or are we going to live like Job.  Are we going to be encouragers or discouragers?  Are we going to kick people while they are down or are we going to help them get back up?  These are good things to think about and remember!


Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.  Shall vain words have an end?  or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?  I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.

Job 16:1-4

We are all probably familiar with the story of Job.  He was a good man.  The Bible describes him as being a “perfect and upright” man.  That is some high praise.  We know that Job’s suffering was not God’s punishment for his doing wrong.  We know that Job was not the vile sinner and hypocrite that his friends made him out to be.  We know all of this because we have the benefit of reading the entire story in the Bible.  We weren’t around when Job was suffering.  We weren’t around with his friends.  It has been said that hindsight is 20/20 and I think there is a lot of truth to that statement.  It’s easy to look back and see what “should have been done.” 

Job’s “friends” came to him after all of the calamities befell him and talked with him over the course of the book.  They saw what he had been through and, instead of comforting him, they basically told him that he was being punished for his sin and that he was a hypocrite.  They were horrible comforters, which Job told them in these verses: “miserable comforters are ye all.” 

Job’s friends had no idea what was going on behind the scenes.  They had no idea why Job was suffering.  But they knew he was suffering.  They knew that he needed help and comfort.  And they did not give it to him.  How often are we guilty of the same thing?  Someone suffers and we assume that it is because of some sin in their life.  Someone falls and we just look down our noses at them.  What a horrible way to think!

Job needed some comfort and encouragement and he did not get it from his friends.  In the same situation, would our friends get comfort and encouragement from us or we be more like Job’s pharisee friends?