Prayer Psalm: 44
Prayer Point: Faithfulness to God does not guarantee a pain free life. This psalm is a lament of the righteous who are suffering because of their obedience to God. Pray this psalm on behalf of our brothers, Benham Irani and Youcef Nadarkhani, two pastors who have been imprisoned in Iran, and the countless others who are persecuted for their faith.
Jesus’ opponents are faced with an conundrum. They claim he is a demon-possessed sinner, but they can’t explain how a “sinner” just opened the eyes of the blind. So during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) they decide to ask Jesus outright, “Are you the Christ? (that’s Greek for Messiah or Anointed One).
How has Jesus already plainly ‘told‘ them who he was? How does Jesus explain their unbelief? Who has given Jesus his sheep? What is it impossible to do to one of Jesus’ sheep? How does Jesus understand his relationship with God the Father?
Paul has just preached a sermon in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia declaring that Jesus was the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes as laid out in the Old Testament. The members of the synagogue, which included both Jews and god-fearing Gentiles (non-Jews who practiced the Jewish faith but had stopped short of undergoing circumcision), were intrigued by what Paul had to say and invited him to speak again. So Paul returns on the following Saturday.
Who shows up this time? How did the Jews respond? Why? Think about what the Jews had a hard time believing about the Gentiles at this time. If we are honest, we realize that we consider certain groups of people who are undeserving of God’s grace. Imagine if they packed your church next Sunday.
What are Paul and Barnabas doing now that are being rejected by the Jews of the synagogue? What happens to the message of Jesus? What kind of opposition does Paul and Barnabas encounter (verse 50)? What do Paul and Barnabas do in response to the opposition (verse 51)?
In Mark 6:8-11 Jesus gave these instructions to his disciples: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no money in your belts … Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” How do you see Paul and Barnabas following this pattern?
Job 32:1-10, 19; 33:1, 19-28 – Job responds to Zophar
In Chapter 32 a new voice is heard. “Elihu, son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram…” (Job 32:2 NIV) makes his debut. Unhappily we don’t know where Elihu comes from or why he’s chiming in. He identifies himself as being angry both with Job and his three “friends” because (1) Job is justifying himself rather than God, and (2) because these “friends” cannot adequately refute him. He also describes himself as being young (in this crowd).
Elihu is motivated from a sincere heart. He is moved to speak his mind, as he puts it: “For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like bottle-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.” (Job 32:19 NIV) I think all of us have experienced moments of such passion in our own lives. The thing to watch here is that this will be a lesson in what we call “conflict resolution”. Most of us are uncomfortable with confrontation, but here we will see Elihu approach someone considerably older than he to tell him that he is wrong. In fairness Elihu is quite deferential as he approaches Job. Where is this clearly shown? (“I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful not daring to tell you what I know. I thought ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’” (Job 32:6-7 NIV))
How does Elihu justify himself to Job? (“But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.” (Job 32:9 NIV))
How does Elihu launch into his confrontation? (“Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know. (Job 32:10 NIV))
What is it that motivates Elihu to confront Job? (“My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.” (Job 33:3 NIV))
What does Elihu do which should cause all of us to give pause? (Elihu confronts Job with his own words. This has happened to me on several occasions and I really don’t like it. – j.t.)
What is Elihu describing in verses 32:19-22? (Elihu is describing approaching death. This poor soul is wasting away “chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones.” (Job 32:19 NIV))
How is this man (verses 32:19-22) ransomed from the pit? (“Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him – then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the day of his youth. He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy’ he is restored by God to his righteous state.”(Job 33:23-26 NIV))
What is the man’s response to this ransoming according to Elihu? (“Then he comes to men and says, ‘I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.’” (Job (33:28 NIV) The not-so-subtle message here for Job, of course, is that he has sinned and that is why this calamity has befallen him. However, if he wants to remedy the situation, he must own his sin, confess it and repent. That ought to go over well.)