Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - December
1st December: Job 3:1-4:11
'I'm reaching the end of my tether' - Do you ever feel like this? What are we to do when, like Job, we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression? Remember Jesus. Remember His suffering - 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?' (Matthew 27:46). He suffered for us. He suffers with us. In our suffering, we need Jesus. We need His love. Some may say, 'You've only yourself to blame'. They will tell us, 'Pull yourself together'. What good will this do - without the love of Jesus? Without His love, things will only get worse. Jesus knows how we feel. He's been there. He went to the Cross - for us. Behind His suffering, we see His love. He has 'suffered'. He has been 'tempted'. He feels our pain. He comes to us with 'mercy and grace'. He is our 'Help in time of need' (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16).
2nd December: Job 4:12-6:7
Eliphaz sounds so 'spiritual'. He speaks of 'a word' being 'brought' to him. He speaks of 'visions in the night' (4:12-13). Sadly, there is, in Eliphaz, a lot of pride and not much love. There's no suggestion, from Eliphaz, that Satan might be behind Job's suffering. 'It's all your own fault' - This is what Eliphaz is saying to Job. When we listen to this kind of talk, we become despondent - 'What have I done to deserve this?'. There are times when we cause problems for ourselves. There are other times when we must say, 'This is the work of Satan' - 'An enemy has done this' (Matthew 13:28). There are times when we must pray, 'Forgive us our sins'. There are times when we must pray, 'Deliver us from the evil one'. From the Lord, we receive forgiveness and victory. Let's give all the 'glory' to Him (Matthew 6:12-13).
3rd December: Job 6:8-7:21
Job calls on God - and there is no answer. The happy days seem to be gone forever. From the Cross, Jesus cries out in agony, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'. There is no Voice from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased' (Mark 15:34; Matthew 3:17). What are we to make of this? Job is suffering. Jesus is suffering. Where is God while all this is happening? What is He doing about it? Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus said this to His enemies: 'This is your hour, and the power of darkness' (Luke 22:53). God allows Satan to have his 'hour'. 'The power of darkness' appears to have the upper hand. This is not the end of the story. There is 'a happy ending'. Job is raised from his depression (42:10,12). Jesus is 'raised' from the dead (Acts 2:23-24).
4th December: Job 8:1-9:19
Bildad speaks as a 'know-it-all'. He sees what has happened to Job, and he thinks, 'Job must have forgotten God'. If Bildad had not been blinded by his own ideas of how things must be, he would have noticed that Job had not forgotten God and he would have realized that bad things can and do happen to people who love God as well as people who don't love Him. When things are going badly, don't forget God's long-term purpose. He is preparing us for 'eternal life' (Matthew 19:29). Sometimes, we wonder what's going on in our lives. We must remember that 'God's ways are higher than our ways' (Isaiah 55:8). We must learn to look beyond our sufferings. They are 'slight and short-lived'. We must look ahead to the 'eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine' (2 Corinthians 4:17).
5th December: Job 9:20-10:22
Job thinks that God is 'against' him. He thinks that he is condemned by God (10:2). Where do these negative thoughts come from? Do they come from God? No! God has a very positive view of Job - 'My servant Job' (1:8). Job is being attacked by Satan, 'the accuser' of God's people (Revelation 12:10). Satan puts negative thoughts into Job's mind. What are we to do when Satan attacks us in this way? Look to the Cross of Christ, rejoicing in God's love for us (Romans 5:8).Take our stand in Jesus Christ - 'There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1). Remind Satan of Christ's victory - 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against' us. Resist Satan - 'Get behind me, Satan!' - , confident that 'we are more than conquerors through Christ' (Matthew 16:18,23; Romans 8:37).
6th December: Job 11:1-12:25
Zophar had all the answers - so he thought! It was all so simple - according to Zophar. 'He must have done something pretty awful to deserve this' - That's what Zophar thought of Job and his suffering (11:6). For Job, nothing was simple. He didn't have any answers. He was very confused. He had been 'a righteous and blameless man' (12:4). Now, he was suffering. Was he being punished by God? Job listened to Zophar. It didn't ring true! Job didn't fully understand what was going on. He did know this: Zophar didn't know what he was talking about. He was shouting his mouth off about things he knew nothing about. Job was not taken in by Zophar's pious words. He responded with this 'understanding' - 'The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one' (12:3; 1 Corinthians 2:15).
7th December: 2 Timothy 1:1-2:7
God's Word is not to be kept to ourselves. Paul was called by God to be a 'preacher' of the 'Gospel' (11). He passed God's Word on to Timothy, encouraging him to share the message with 'faithful' people who would pass it on to others' (13; 2:2). Everyone has their part to play. Things didn't come to a standstill when Paul wasn't around. Timothy was to make sure that everything didn't revolve around himself. There were others who were to carry the work of God forward. We must not make too much of certain individuals. The work of the Lord is always much more than the work done by any one person. God is always looking for more people who will take up the challenge of seeing that His work is not left undone. Serve the Lord in the 'power' of 'the Holy Spirit'. Trust Him - His work is 'safe in His hands' (1:7,14,12).
8th December: 2 Timothy 2:8-3:9
'Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead' (2:8). God's servants become part of our past. Christ remains the heart of our future. He is the risen Christ, the living Lord. When God's servants become a distant memory, we must remember Him. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are to 'avoid godless chatter' and 'stupid, senseless controversies', we must keep Him at the very centre of our lives (16,23). If we are to be 'lovers of God' rather than 'lovers of self', we must keep on saying from the heart, 'I must decrease. Christ must increase' (3:4,2; John 3:30). We may face problems - from those who 'oppose the truth', people of 'corrupt mind and counterfeit faith'. Don't be afraid of such opposition - 'they will not get very far...their folly will be plain to all' (3:8-9). Keep your eyes on Jesus!
9th December: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:22
What is the greatest thing that the Lord's servants can pass on to the Lord's people? - 'The Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus' (3:15). They are to 'preach the Word' in the power of 'the Holy Spirit' (2; 1 Peter 1:12). When the preaching has ended, one thing remains - 'the living and abiding Word of God' (1 Peter 1:12). When all the words have been spoken, the ministry of the Spirit continues. Through the ongoing work of 'the Spirit of the living God', the Word of God is 'written' in the 'hearts' of those who have heard the Word preached (2 Corinthians 3:3). What kind of preaching do we need? Do we need 'teachers who will tell us what we want to hear' (3)? No! We need preachers who will say 'what the Spirit says to the churches' (Revelation 2:7,11,17, 29; 3:6,13,22).
10th December: Job 13:1-14:22
When you don't really know what you're talking about, it's a case of the less said the better. That's how Job feels about his 'friends' - 'Oh that would you keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!' (13:5). They are no help to him. What does he do next? He takes his problem to the Lord. Nothing seems clear to Job. He seems to be bogged down in his own suffering. There is, however, a glimmer of light. A question comes into his mind - 'If a man die, shall he live again?' (14:14). Later on, Job gives the answer of faith: 'I know that my Redeemer lives...Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh' (19:25). 'Christ has been raised from the dead...Death is swallowed up in victory...Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 15:20,54,57).
11th December: Job 15:1-16:5
After more of the same from Eliphaz, Job responds, 'How often have I heard all this before! What sorry conforters you are!' (16:1). With 'friends' like this, who needs enemies? This was not what Job needed. He needed 'words of encouragement' (16:5). Where does true comfort comes from? It comes from the Holy Spirit - 'the Comforter' (John 14:26). If we are to speak words of encouragement, we must listen to the voice of the Spirit. We must learn to speak with His voice, the voice of 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control' (Galatians 5:22-23). Pray that 'the meditation of your heart' and 'the words of your mouth' will be filled with the Spirit of love. Remember - Without love, our words mean 'nothing' (Psalm 19:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Let there be more love.
12th December: Job 16:6-17:16
'There is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure' (16:17). Is this no more than Job's own opinion of himself? No! It is much more than that. It is also God's view of Job: 'my witness is in heaven, and He that vouches for me is on high' (16:19). When suffering comes our way, we can become bitter - blaming God and turning away from Him - or we can become better - 'the righteous holds to his way, and he that has clean hands grows stronger and stronger' (17:9). What makes the difference? - It is 'God's love...poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit' (Romans 5:3-5). Seeing our suffering in the light of God's love, we say, with faith, 'Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Romans 8:35-39). Let His love lead you from the bitter way to the better way.
13th December: Job 18:1-19:7
Job listens to Bildad's harsh words. He answers with a question: 'How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?' (19:2). Job couldn't make much sense of what was going on in his life. He was sure of one thing. His 'friends' were missing the point of it all. They had it all wrong. They were not speaking the Word of the Lord. They were only making things worse for Job. We must be careful with our words: 'The tongue is a fire...set on fire by hell...With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not happen!' (James 3:6,9-10). 'Let your conversation be always full of grace' (Colossians 4:6). May our words 'bring a blessing to those who hear' them (Ephesians 4:29).
14th December: Job 19:8-29
Christ's resurrection, Christ's return, our redemption - All of this is brought to mind as we read Job's great words of faith: 'I know that my Rdeemer lives...in the end He will stand upon the earth...in my flesh I will see God' (25-26). Jesus Christ 'has risen' from the dead. He is 'the living One'. He is 'alive for evermore'(Matthew 28:6; Revelation 1:18). Jesus Christ will return 'with power and great glory'. 'He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him' (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7). The Day of Christ's return will be the Day of 'our redemption'. 'When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is'. 'We shall always be with the Lord' (Luke 21:27-28; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Don't forget the word of warning, spoken by Job to his 'friends' - 'There is a judgment' (29)!
15th December: Job 20:1-29
'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread'. This is what we have here. Zophar doesn't stop to think. He's 'like a bull in a china shop'. Zophar gives a detailed description of 'the wicked man's portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God' (29). He does not stop to ask, 'Does all of this apply to Job? Is Job a wicked man? Is Job being punished by God?'. Before we rush into passing judgment on other people, here are some things to think about: 'There is one Lawgiver and Judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that judge your neighbour?'. 'Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Why do you despise your brother? We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God'. 'Judge not that you be not judged' (James 4:12; Romans 14:10; Matthew 7:1). Think before you speak!
16th December: Job 21:1-34
Job has listened to his 'comforters', and he is not impressed: 'How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood' (34). Job can't make sense of all that is happening to him. He doesn't understand what it all means. In all his confusion, there is one thing he doesn't forget: God is in control. When he asks the question, 'Will any teach God knowledge ...?' (22), what he's really saying is this: 'I don't understand what's going on, but God does!'. Later on, Job speaks these great words of faith - 'He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold' (23:10). When you're 'going through the mill', remember, 'Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles...' (Isaiah 40:31).
17th December: Job 22:1-23:7
Job's 'friends' assume that Job is being punished by God. They are unaware that someone else is behind Job's suffering - Satan! Job isn't sure what to make of it all. Is God punishing him after all? Deep down in his heart, he knows that God loves him. Job asks the question - 'Would He contend with me in the greateness of His power?'. He answers his own question - 'No; He would give heed to me' (23:6). Job knows that God is a God of great power. He knows something else about God. He is a God of great love. He is not 'all power and no love'. 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). What really lies behind Job's suffering? - 'The devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!' . The time will come when God will say to Satan, 'Enough! No more!' (Revelation 12:12; 20:10)!
18th December: Job 23:8-24:5
Satan is working overtime! He is filling Job with fear. In his state of deep depression, Job says, "God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; for I am hemmed in by darkness, and thick darkness covers my face' (23:16-17). Where do these thoughts come from? Do they come from the Lord? No! They come from Satan! This is not 'the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom' (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). It is a very different kind of fear, a fear which comes from Satan. How are we to overcome this fear? When depression threatens to overwhelm us, what are we to do? Look to the Lord. He 'has not given us a spirit of fear'. He has given us His 'Spirit of power and love'. He gives us 'a sound mind'. Look to the Lord. Let His 'perfect love cast out your fear' (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18).
19th December: Job 25:1-27:6
Job's 'comforters' are no friends to him. They fail to discern the presence and purpose of God in Job's life. Job responds to them with biting sarcasm - 'How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!' (26:2). They're hopeless - no help to him at all! Why is their advice so useless? Job challenges them, 'With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has come forth from you?' (26:4). Their words do not come from the Spirit of the Lord. They come from Satan. They are his servants. He is using them. He is speaking through them. They are part of his evil plot to destroy Job. No wonder their words are so useless! There is no way the servants of Satan will ever help us to love the Lord better. We need the Word of the Lord spoken in the power of His Spirit.
20th December: Job 27:7-28:28
'The fear of the Lord -that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding' (28:28). True wisdom is centred on Christ. He is 'our wisdom'. He is 'the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:30,24). True wisdom leads us to put our faith in Christ. Through 'the Holy Scriptures', we receive the wisdom which leads us to receive 'salvation through faith in Christ Jesus' (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom leads us to become 'mature in Christ', living a Christlike life: 'The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good deeds, straightforward and sincere' (Colossians 1:28; James 3:17). True wisdom gives glory to Christ. Our 'faith' does 'not rest in the wisdom of men'. It rests 'in the power of God'. 'Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord' (1 Corinthians 2:5; 1:31).
21st December: Job 29:1-30:31
Don't forget to remember! In his time of darkness, Job remembers: 'when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked through darkness'. When God seems so far away, Job remembers: 'when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me' (29:4-5). What are we to do when 'the days of affliction come to meet' us, when our days are full of 'mourning' and 'weeping' (30:27,31)? We must remember the good times, the happy days. When you find yourself wondering, 'Why are these bad things happening to me?', think of something else - 'Why has God blessed me with so many good things?'. This will help you when everything seems so dark, when God seems so far away. Remember to thank God for His good days. It will help you to trust Him in your bad days.
22nd December: Job 31:1-40
For a summary of all that Job says here, we may go back to the very beginning of his story: 'Job...was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil' (1:1). He is a fine example of the kind of godly living which Paul made his ideal: 'I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man' (Acts 24:16). How many times we fall short of this ideal! Again and again, we must come to God with our confession of sin . We 'have sinned'. We 'fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). How can our sins be forgiven? How can our guilt be removed? There is only one way. It is through 'the blood of Jesus'. Through His blood, 'our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience'. Confess your sins to God. Let 'the blood of Jesus cleanse you from all sin' (Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:9,7).
23rd December: Luke 1:26-38
No ordinary child! Jesus would be special - very special! This was the message the angel brought to Mary - 'He will be great...the Son of the Most High...the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God' (32,35). We celebrate the birth of a child. How much more should we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ! 'Come on and celebrate! His gift of love we will celebrate - the Son of God who loved us and gave us life' (Mission Praise, 99). God is calling us to worship His Son, our Saviour. Let Jesus be the centre of your attention. No one else must compete with Him. 'O come let us adore Him...For He alone is worthy...We'll give Him all the glory...Christ the Lord' (Mission Praise, 490). He is more than 'a lovely baby - much more than that! He is our wonderful Saviour!
24th December: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7
'The old, old story - it is ever new'. With each passing year, we move further away from the time when Christ was born. Further away from the time when He was born, but not further away from Him - He is still 'Emmanuel...God with us' (1:23)! We may never visit the place where He was born. Many visit Bethlehem as tourists without becoming worshippers. They look at the place where He was born - but they do not love Him! They have 'no room' in their hearts for Him (2:7).There is a place where you can find Jesus. Love will grow, worship will become real, when you find Him - in your heart! 'O come to my heart, Lord Jesus. There is room in my heart for Thee' (Mission Praise, 697). Don't just remember His birth. Experience it - 'O Holy Child of Bethlehem...Be born in us today'(Church Hymnary, 172).
25th December: Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12
The shepherds and the wise men seem so different from us! Everything seems so long ago and so far away! Are they really any different from us? Can we dare to forget the lessons we learn from the shepherds and the wise men? Some may say, 'It was different back then. Life was so simple. Now, there are so many distractions. There are so many other things for us to do'. Listen to this kind of talk, and you are listening to the voice of Satan! The devil will fill our lives with all kinds of things. He will keep us so busy that we forget all about worshipping Jesus! More than ever before - in our world of so many distractions - we need to learn from the wise men and the worshipping shepherds. Make time to 'worship Jesus' (2). There is nothing more important than this - 'glorifying and praising God' (20).
26th December: Job 32:1-33:18
'The Bible is the Word of God' - What do we mean when we say this? Two statements from Elihu may help us to think about this question. (a) 'Understanding' comes from 'the breath of the Almighty' (32:8). (b) 'God does speak - now one way, now another - though man may not perceive it' (33:14). 'The breath of the Almighty' - This is where the Scriptures come from: 'All Scripture is God-breathed' (2 Timothy 3:16). God has spoken. He has breathed out His Word. 'God does speak - now one way, now another' - There is great variety in the Bible. We have our favourite passages. Let's not forget the more obscure and difficult passages - He speaks through 'all Scripture': 'now one way, now another'. When the doubters fire their questions - remember: 'God does speak...though man may not perceive it'!
27th December: Job 33:19-34:20
Things are going well. We say, 'Thank You, God'. We rejoice in the Lord. We give praise to His Name. Everything seems to be going so well - but we need to take care! In the good times, our praise and thanksgiving can go stale. We take God's blessing for granted. Our rejoicing in the Lord becomes a superficial thing. Things start going badly. We blame God. We say, 'Where are You, Lord? What are You going to do about this?'. What we must remember is this: The Lord is with us - even when we're going through hard times. He hasn't stopped loving us. He hasn't gone away and left us. He is there beside us, every step of the way. He wants to bring us closer to Himself, to give us this powerful testimony: 'He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light' (33:28-30).
28th December: Job 34:21-35:16
'If you have sinned' (35:6). Let's think about Job, Jesus and ourselves. (a) 'Job feared God and shunned evil' (1:1). He was not being singled out for special punishment - because he was much more sinful than anyone else. This does not mean he had never sinned (7:21; 13:26). (b) There is only One Man 'without sin' - our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Did this mean that Jesus did not suffer? No! - 'He suffered for us...He bore our sins...He died for us...He died for our sins' (1 Peter 2:21-24; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). (c) There's no 'if' about it! When we sin - What are we to do? Like Job, we must trust in our 'Redeemer' - the Lord Jesus Christ (19:25). He gives 'quietness' and 'songs in the night' (34:29; 35:10). 'Be still and know that He is God. Shout for joy to Him' (Psalms 46:10; 98:4).
29th December: Job 36:1-33
'God is mighty, and does not despise any' (5). God is great - great in power, great in love. How sad it would be if the God of great love had no power to save us! How terrifying it would be if the God of great power had no love in His heart for us! What a joy it is to to know that He is both the God of great power and the God of great love! He is 'abundant in power' - and He loves us: 'He heals the brokenhearted and...lifts up the downtrodden'. What can we say about this God of great power and great love? - 'Praise the Lord!'. Let us 'sing to the Lord with thanksgiving'. Let us 'make melody to our God'. "It is good to sing praises to our God' (Psalm 147:1-7). 'How good is the God we adore! Our faithful, unchangeable Friend. His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end' (Mission Praise, 244).
30th December: Job 37:1-24
'The Almighty is great in power and...He does not oppress' (23). God's power is loving power. His love is powerful love. In Jesus Christ, we see God's power - 'He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him' - and God's love - 'I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me' (Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37). In our world, the love of power has become a very destructive thing. In Jesus Christ, we see something quite different - the power of love. He uses His power to show us His love. He shows us His love when - through His mighty power - He saves us. As you think of the Lord Jesus Christ - His loving power, His powerful love - , let 'His love and power control all you do and say': 'More love, more power, more of You in my life' (Church Hymnary, 432; Songs of Fellowship, 392).
31st December: Job 38:1-38
The Lord has listened long enough! He's listened to a lot of 'empty-headed words'. He has listened to a long, heated debate. There's been a lot of heat and not much light. Everything seems to be as clear as mud (1). Now, it's His time for speaking! What does God have to say? He invites Job to look at the bigger picture. Being preoccupied with our own problems doesn't really solve anything. 'Why has this happened to me? Why did it not turn out that way? Why this? Why that?' - We go round in circles, thinking about these kind of questions. We don't have all the answers. There are plenty of things we don't understand. Even when we don't understand what's happening, we can still say, 'I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth' (Psalm 121:1-2).