Tag Archive | Bible Study

Lessons From Job: With Friends Like These…

Few things hurt worse than being misunderstood, wrongly judged. These words penned by David also express well what Job must have felt when his so-called friends started talking. But for Job, it wasn’t just one familiar voice speaking words of condemnation, but three.

As I read the daily posts on the chronic illness prayer group that I moderate, the pain of being wrongly judged is an issue that repeatedly comes up. As I came to chapter 3 in my study of the book of Job, this is what immediately came to mind. And often, the hurtful words come from those to whom we should be able to look for support, our family and friends. 

I don’t know any people with chronic illness who would not love to be healed. As a Christian, I believe God has the power to heal and I pray continuously for healing and relief from symptoms for myself and others. This is definitely not an area I fully understand, but experience tells me that some are healed physically in their earthly bodies and others are not. If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, keep asking for healing. But DO NOT turn your back on God if you are not healed!  Keep seeking His face. Continue living to please Him in everything you do. Don’t give into doubts about His love when the pain continues. Know you are loved, and respond to His love by loving Him with your whole heart.

Let’s look at the words of Job’s friends in a little more detail:

  • The first fact revealed about Job’s friends in Job 2:11 is after hearing of his troubles they met together by agreement and went to sympathize with Job and comfort him. A good goal! They then sat with their friend for seven days before they began offering their opinions.
  • The first friend to speak was Eliphaz the Temanite. Some of what Eliphaz said is true; for example, his statement in Job 4:8, “those who plow evil, and those who sow trouble will reap it” is true. But Eliphaz’ conclusion that Job’s suffering was because of his sin was wrong. In simple terms, Eliphaz looked at Job and said, “You’re only getting what you deserve.”
  • Next, we meet Bildad the Shuhite. He begins, “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind.” (Job 8:2) In essence he says, “Job, if you would just admit you have sinned, all of this would stop.”
  • The last friend to speak is Zophar the Naamathite. He goes even a step further than the first two in saying, “Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6)  In other words, Zophar was saying, “Job, your sin deserves even more suffering than you’ve experienced.”

Job’s three friends had reputations for being wise, yet any wisdom in their words was negated by judgmental attitudes. Their explanations of Job’s suffering lacked compassion. They lacked correct understanding of the true nature of God. Later in the book, God rebukes them, saying to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7)

My heart breaks for my brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the physical and emotional strain of chronic illness. And it aches even more for those who don’t have family and friends to encourage and strengthen them as they walk this difficult path. 

If you have a friend with chronic illness, please don’t be like Job’s friends. Take every opportunity to encourage and help lift the load of those who hurt. If you personally suffer with chronic illness, don’t judge yourself and conclude that you have done something terrible to bring this upon yourself. 

God does convict of sin, but His conviction is specific and leads to repentance. If God shows you an area of sin, confess it to the Lord and receive His forgivenss. But recognize God is not the source of condemnation. Remember the truth of Romans 8:1-2. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Making Bible Study a Priority

We live in a rushed, high input culture, where distractions are non-ending. This is true, whether you are a Mom with young children or a senior adult as I am. To have an effective time of Bible study requires being purposeful.

Several years ago, I learned this important truth. Since then, Bible study has been a part of my daily schedule. I have a regular place and time for Bible study. For me, the place is my lift chair, mainly because sitting at a desk or table causes pain from my chronic illnesses to be a distraction. You know what place works best for you. The tim is as soon as I finish breakfast. And my Bible, journal, pen, and reading plan are on a shelf next to my chair, ready to use. My iPad is also available since many of the resources I use during my study time are online, but I’ve made a commitment not to be distracted by checking email or social media until my study time is over. Each of us have different distractions to deal with, but the key is finding the time and place where they are minimized.

Each year, I choose a specific reading plan. In 2015, I used a chronological through the Bible reading plan. This year, I’ve chosen a plan that covers one book at a time, one chapter a day, allowing me to spend more time digging into the chapter. And I’m supplementing this with a Bible study through God-Living Girls, a group of ladies who all suffer with chronic illnesses.

Now, with the plan ready and supplies waiting, what do I actually do?

  • I start with a brief time of prayer, asking God to speak to me and to open my ears to listen. If I’m aware of any sin that would separate me from God, I confess it before starting.
  • Next, I read the chapter for the day, from start to finish. Sometimes, I use the YouVersion Bible app to listen to the chapter and follow along in the text. This gives me an overview of the material that I’m studying.
  • Then I ask God to show me which verses He wants me to focus on today. I’ve already read the full chapter, so I’m aware of the context of the shorter passage. I also reflect on what the passage meant to the original readers. I take notice of key words in the passage. Often, this step includes studying one or two words in the original language so I fully understand the meaning.
  • Now it’s time to slow down and listen. Usually God has a specific application for me in the passage, but if I rush through this step I might miss it.
  • Finally, I journal about what God is showing me from this passage. This might be a brief as one or two paragraphs, or if God is dealing with a major area of application I’ve sometimes written several pages.
  • After I complete my study of today’s passage, I use an app called Scripture Typer to review verses I’ve been working on memorizing. If God is speaking to me from a specific verse from today’s passage, I might add that to my list of verses. This app not only helps me memorize the verse, but it sets up a regular schedule of reviewing verses so I don’t forget them. Then I close my quiet time with prayer.

Bible study by itself doesn’t change our lives – we must follow thought with the applications God has shown us. D. L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”  The effectiveness of your Bible study can best be seen by the positive changes in your life.