Today: Proverbs 3:21-35; Matthew 21:18-32; Job 22, 23, & 24
Proverbs 3 – FAITH
Faith means trusting in God. Faith is believing that God is real, that he knows you and wants to have a relationship with you.
You’ve heard of “blind faith.” Sometimes people are in a place of such unbelief that taking a step toward God requires a blind leap of faith. How terrifying to jump out into the abyss without sight of a landing spot. Many will never make that jump.
But for those who do, the kingdom of heaven awaits them on the other side. I’m not talking about after you die. I’m talking about RIGHT NOW.
The closer you get to God, the less blind your faith becomes. As you seek him, he slowly opens your eyes. He turns on the lights of your soul one ray at a time to reveal himself to you. Moment by moment, through the seasons of your life, through your hardships and joys — each experience of sensing his presence, hearing his voice, recognizing his unmistakable handiwork in your life, opens your eyes a tad more. As you forge relationship with God, he will give “life to your soul” (v.22) because “he is intimate with the upright.” (v.32)
It is possible to reach a place of such deep faith that there is no longer any doubt, no fear, no worries, or anxiety. The closer we get to God, the more he replaces all of those worldly emotional burdens with his holy joy, peace and light. “You will not be afraid…of sudden danger, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence.” (v.24-26)
Yes, that first step may be a blind leap into the unknown. But it doesn’t remain dark in that wonderful new place for long. “Then you will walk in your way securely.” (v.23) This is eternal vision, true life, and it is ours for the taking… today.
Matthew 21 – The Fig Tree
After Jesus says to a fig tree, “No longer shall there be any fruit from you,” the tree immediately withers. The astounded disciples ask Jesus how can this have happened. He tells them that if they “have faith and do not doubt” they will be able to “say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive it all.” (v.21-22)
This is such a confusing verse. Why would Jesus say something like this that is obviously not true? Go outside and command the nearest mountain to go jump in a lake. Go ahead, I dare you. It’s not gonna happen. So why does Jesus say it?
Jesus’ promises are always about the kingdom of heaven, a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly physical one. All of Jesus’ promises ARE absolutely TRUE — but they are promises of the riches of the kingdom of heaven: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… These and more are the soul deep, eternal riches of the kingdom of heaven. They are far greater than any physical gift. If we only had eyes to see. How difficult this truth is for us to grasp while our souls are encased in these dying bodies of flesh.
Eliphaz has a simplistic life view. If Job is suffering, then God must be punishing him for some sin. 2+2=4. There is no gray area in Eliphaz’s world view. When he can’t find any evidence of Job’s purported wickedness, he just makes stuff up. Eliphaz concocts crazy stories of Job abusing widows and orphans, mocking and rejecting God… all untrue allegations.
Eliphaz feels like he NEEDS to believe this way. He wants a surefire formula to follow for guaranteed blessings. He wants to believe that if we act in a particular, well-defined way, then God will always make us successful. This is only another form of prideful thinking… secular humanism… the belief that we can MAKE God do certain things if we only speak the right incantations, mix up the proper potion, then God will be forced to comply with our demands. It doesn’t work that way. He is the supreme ruler of this universe and try as we might, there are no spells to conjure up control over God.